According to preliminary official results, the turnout at the Catalan independence referendum was 42.58%, but Wikipedia also notes that The Catalan government estimated that polling stations representing up to 770,000 electors were closed down by police in raids, which makes it hard to interpret/compare the 42.58% figure; at best it's a lower estimate of what the turnout would have been without those closures. If we subtract those 770,000 from the 5,313,564 registered voters, the turnout among those who were able to vote at all would be 2,262,424/(5,313,564-770,000)*100%=49.8%. But that is a very approximate figure. Are there any official estimates of the turnout considering only those polling places where people were able to vote and ballots were not seized by the police?

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    The calculation of "turnout among those who were able to vote at all" (and really the entire question) is based on a false assumption. Originally the intention was that each voter could only vote at their own polling station, but that was changed on the day. Even Puigdemont didn't vote at his own polling station. Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 12:41
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    "at best it's a lower estimate of what the turnout would have been without those closures" A countervailing issue is that apparently it was possible to vote multiple times (because they allowed people to vote at polling places other than their own). So it's not even a lower bound. And of course, there may be some people who wanted to vote yes but were afraid. There were certainly people who would have voted no but did not vote because the Spanish government opposed it.
    – Brythan
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 14:10
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    @Brythan In The Netherlands, we are allowed to vote at polling places other than our own, but we can't vote multiple times, because we have only one voting card. I don't know how the Catalan authorities implemented the poll, but more evidence is needed before it can be shown that voting multiple times was possible.
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 14:45
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    The problem here is that they did not have the infrastructure to limit to one vote per person. They did not intend to allow people to vote in any voting place. They implemented it on the fly, on the day of the vote.
    – Brythan
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 15:03
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    @gerrit by 11:00, the system that disallowed multiple voting was back online fully, before that, schools could only cast votes when it loaded. d1abj31dnwl5uq.cloudfront.net/imatges/56/57/alta/…
    – CptEric
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 8:51

1 Answer 1


Such an estimate would not be reliable, as the requirement for voters to vote at their designated polling station was removed in the last hours before the referendum began. Therefore, polling stations which functioned throughout the entire day would show a disproportionate turnout as they would have gotten additional votes from people who were turned away from their assigned polling stations.

While I am not aware of any such statistics, the only somewhat reliable way of getting such an estimate would be to compile a list of polling stations which functioned regularly throughout the entire day, voters assigned to those polling stations and the percentage of those people who actually did cast a vote. Assuming there was a proper registration of voters (from which one could tell who voted, and which was effective in preventing double votes)—which the comments seem to indicate but which I do not know for sure.

Even under the above assumptions, these figures would still be unreliable as indicators of what participation would have been if the police had not attempted to prevent the referendum. According to news reports, voting was not possible for the first few hours after the polling stations opened, which may have resulted in people not voting. Others might have chosen to stay at home because they did not want to get involved with clashes in the police.

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