Voting in a communal referendum

Last update 15.04.2019

The communal council can call upon the voters in the commune to express their opinion on matters of interest for the commune by way of a referendum.

This process is called a communal referendum. This referendum is only of an advisory nature, but participation is mandatory for all persons registered on the electoral rolls for communal elections.

Who is concerned

Voters whose names are on the electoral rolls for communal elections on the day of the referendum are called to cast their vote.

Are therefore concerned all citizens who:

  • are Luxembourg nationals;
  • are non-Luxembourg nationals;
  • are at least 18 years of age on the day of the election;
  • enjoy their civil and political rights;
  • reside in Luxembourg.

Voters may also participate in the referendum by postal vote.

Only persons who actually have the right to vote may participate in the referendum (for example: a person who has been stripped of the right to vote due to a final court decision cannot participate in the vote).

Prerequisites

Voters must be listed in the electoral rolls for legislative elections on the day of the referendum to be eligible to vote.

How to proceed

Voter information and poll cards

When the communal council decides to organise a communal referendum, it:

  • formulates the question(s) that it will submit to the voters;
  • fixes the date of the referendum which can take place 30 days after the decision at the earliest.

If the voters (1/5 in communes of over 3000 inhabitants, 1/4 in all others) want to force a referendum, they:

  • submit a request to the communal council;
  • formulate the question(s) to submit to the voters.

The communal council must organise the referendum within 3 months of the request.

Voters are informed that a referendum is to be held through the placing of a notice on 3 occasions in 3 Luxembourg daily newspapers.

The board of the mayor and aldermen sends, at least 5 days ahead of the vote, a poll card to each voter which indicates:

  • the date;
  • the start and end times of the voting;
  • the place where the communal referendum is held;
  • if there are multiple polling stations, the designation of the one where the voter is called to vote.
  • the instructions and models of the question(s).

Mandatory voting

Voting is mandatory for all voters registered on the electoral rolls in the commune concerned by the referendum, except for:

  • voters who, at the time of the vote, live in a commune other than the one in which they are called to vote;
  • voters who are over 75 years of age.

Those who are unable to vote must explain the reason for their absence to their local State Prosecutor, and provide the necessary supporting documents. Unjustified abstentions are punishable by a fine. In the event of repeat offences, the penalty is increased.

Voters may not be represented by proxy.

Postal voting

Voters registered on the electoral rolls for the communal elections can request to vote by post in the communal referendum.

Voting procedure

Voters may vote from 8.00 to 14.00. Voters who are in the premises of the polling station before 14.00 are allowed to vote.

Voters are not allowed to vote if they are not registered on the electoral rolls for communal elections in the commune concerned. If they are not registered, they may still be allowed to vote if they present a decision by the mayor of the commune, the mayor's deputy or a judicial authority attesting that they have the right to vote in the commune.

Voters must show their poll card. A voter who shows up without the document in question may be admitted to vote if his or her identity and capacity are recognised by the members of the polling station.

The voter receives a ballot form. They will directly have to go into one of the booths, mark their vote, show the chief polling officer their ballot folded back into its original state with the stamp on the outside, and deposit it in the ballot box.

They are forbidden to unfold their ballot once they leave the voting booth in a way that reveals how they voted. If this happens, the chief polling officer will take the unfolded ballot, immediately cancel and destroy it, and invite the voter to vote again.

Voters who inadvertently damage the ballot that was given to them may ask the chief polling officer for another one after returning the original one, which will be immediately destroyed. A record of this shall be made in the voting report.

Voters may spend only as much time in the booth as is necessary to fill out their ballots.

Voters who:

  • are blind or disabled are authorised by the chief polling officer:
    • to be accompanied by a personal guide or any other assistant;
    • to have their guide/assistant cast the vote in their place if they are not in a position to cast the vote themselves;
  • the visually impaired are authorised to vote by using the tactile voting template provided to them prior to the elections. Failing this, they may use the tactile voting template made available by the communal administration.

A polling station member can accompany the visually impaired voter into a voting booth to help him insert the ballot correctly into the voting model.

The vote is secret and the voter can not be forced to reveal it for any reason (judicial investigation or challenge, parliamentary inquiry, etc.).

Ballot validity

Each voter has one vote per question asked.

Voters must fill out the ballot in the following manner:

  • either by filling in one of the 2 boxes on the ballot next to each question;
  • or by marking a cross (+ or x) in one of the two boxes next to each question.

Each filled box, even if only in part, or marked with a cross, even imperfectly, is deemed a valid vote, unless it becomes obvious that it is the voter's intent to become recognisable with the ballot paper.

Voters may express their votes using a pencil, a ballpoint pen or similar writing implement.

The following ballots will be deemed null and void:

  • ballots other than those provided by the commune; or
  • those expressing more than one vote per question asked; or
  • those whose shape and dimensions have been altered; or
  • those containing any piece of paper or other foreign object; or
  • those whose authors may be rendered recognisable by a sign, a deletion or a mark not authorised by law.

Ballots containing no votes are considered blank.

However, ballots that express fewer votes than there are questions are valid. In other words, voters are not required to answer every question asked.

Appeals against voting operations

All voters have the right to claim against the communal referendum.

The claim:

  • must be in writing;
  • list all means of complaint;
  • be handed to the mayor within 5 days of the announcement of the results.

If a referendum is definitively declared null and void, the government will set a date for a new vote within 8 days. The new vote must be held within 45 days.

Who to contact

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