Voting in Spanish Elections

If you're an EU citizen you may vote in the European Elections; and if you are resident in Spain you are eligible to vote (and even stand as a candidate) in Spanish local elections. Find out how and where to register and how and where to vote...

Local elections take place throughout Spain every four years. These elect the local mayor and councillors. Voting in local elections uses a Closed Party-list with seats allocated to each party in proportion to the number of votes the party receives; for example in a town with 15 Councillors a party with 60 percent of the votes would have 9 councillors in place.

Eligibility to Vote

EU citizens who are living in another EU member state are eligible to vote or stand as a candidate in local and European elections.

This means that any EU citizen resident in Spain may vote in their local Spanish elections provided that:

  • they are registered on the population census
  • they have signed the voting form
  • For further information from the EU: Elections Abroad

How to Register to Vote In Spain

Only people included on the official Town Hall register (padrón municipal) may vote. Registering should be one of the first things done after selecting a municipality in which to live. Registering for the padrón provides many benefits including:

  • enabling EU citizens to join the electoral register and vote
  • helping the council to allocate budgets properly
  • allowing an accurate census
  • enabling registrants to use municipal services, such as libraries, schools and summer camps
  • tax relief; capital gains and income tax is lower for Spanish residents than for foreigners

To be included on the Town Hall register, visit the local Town Hall (ayuntamiento) taking:

  • proof of identification (passport)
  • proof of address (an electricity bill, water bill, telephone bill, rental contract or similar)
  • a completed registration form (volante de empadronamiento).

The process is free and can be competed before residency papers are received.

The electoral census

If already registered on the Town Hall register, an electoral census form should have been received. If it hasn't, obtain one at the Town Hall or download the form. Submit the form at the Town Hall.

Once registered on the Town Hall register, it is recommended to visit the Town Hall to verify inclusion on the municipal register and declare the desire to vote. Just being on the register does not grant voting rights, a declaration must be made in order to be included on the electoral roll. To be eligible to vote it is necessary to declare, "yo quiero estar censado," literally "I would like to be in the census," therefore indicating that the desire to be included on the electoral roll.

Allow at least three months for processing to be officially registered to vote. Approximately two months before the election, visit the Town Hall and confirm inclusion on the register. The electoral card will be posted to the voter before the election date.

How to Vote on Election Day

Each of Spain's political parties will choose candidates; when voting in Spain the party is chosen, not the individual. After the election date is announced, candidates will campaign until just before the election. Campaigning is prohibited during the two-day reflection period just prior to an election, as well as on election day, which is usually on a Sunday. Contact the Town Hall to find out the location of the local polling station (colegios electorales).

On election day, take identification and any voting papers to the polls. In the polling booth, lists of the parties running for election will be available. Choose the list of candidates, place it into one of the envelopes provided and seal the envelope. Prior to the election, some parties will post to voters a list already placed in an envelope to encourage votes for their party. After exiting the booth, go to the attendant, show identification and hand in the envelope.

Other Elections

British Citizens

British citizens who are resident in Spain are entitled to vote in local Spanish elections as well as European parliamentary elections. If registered as an overseas voter, they may only vote in European Union elections in one country.

American Citizens

Australian Citizens

Further Information