For many voters here in Catalonia, the day began at 5:00am, with crowds of people gathering outside polling stations in school and council buildings, so as to prevent the institutions from being closed down by police. Many of these people, children and adults, had spent the night camping in the school, playing games, and watching films. Their intention; come morning, is to make their voices heard in the vote.
In order to make the vote happen, more than 10,000 ballot papers have been handed out by volunteers, over 300 schools have been occupied, the fire brigade are cordoning off polling stations, (and engaging in standoffs with police), hordes of tractors have driven in from the countryside, positioning themselves outside schools and council buildings to protect those inside. Voters are wearing white as a symbol of their attitude – peace and serenity.
At 8:00am, the ballot boxes arrived, carried in haste by young, casually dressed Catalonians. They were met by a hushed cheer, as the crowd tried to keep the protest peaceful and silent. There are no Catalan flags present in the polling stations, no Spanish flags, just white t-shirts and umbrellas, to shelter from the rain.