The awareness campaign launched online by CNE with videos of everyday acts demonstrating that going to get coffee or shopping is as safe as going to the polls on the 24 January, stressing that "going to get a coffee is safe, vote too", since all health rules will be met.
The rules for the voting day are also illustrated by the CNE in another video, which informs the voter about the steps to follow in going to the polls, such as the mandatory use of mask, disinfection of the hands, respect for the safety distance and the routes that will be marked from the entrance to the respective voting table.
Speaking to Lusa, João Tiago Machado, CNE spokesman, pointed out that it is common to hear, after an electoral act with high percentages of abstention, that the Portuguese did not vote "because it was an excellent beach day" or "because it was very bad weather". "There are always these excuses, and the pandemic could be another excuse. And with this campaign we really wanted to show that elections will only be held because everything is safeguarded that it is safe," he said.
VOTAR É SEGURO
The person responsible explained to Lusa that the campaign was done without graphic elements that would associate it with a specific election, having been thought for the two electoral acts scheduled for this year (presidential and local), taking into account that "everything indicates" that it may be necessary again in October, he pointed out. According to the CNE it is planned to broadcast this campaign on traditional television channels and it will also be made available to the population through leaflets with all the rules for election day.
Accompanying the videos of the campaign, CNE also offers a "tutorial" with the "10 rules for safe voting". Members of the polling stations will be responsible for monitoring voters' compliance with the rules, for example, regularly checking for congregations of people at the entrance to the room and calling the authorities "where necessary". In the context of the presidential elections, the CNE also supports the site euvoto.pt, a project created by a group of citizens concerned about young abstention, which discloses information on how to vote and which presidential candidates there are in the race to Belém.
João Tiago Machado said that the CNE decided to support the citizen initiative after having verified that all criteria of equal opportunities between candidates are being met, and welcomed the success of the initiative, which already has more than 4,000 followers on the social network Instagram.
For the operation of the presidential elections in January, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI) expects spending of about 480,000 euros on sanitary equipment, such as masks, visors, gowns, gloves, alcohol and others. On 18 December, the Government authorized the General Secretariat of the Internal Administration to "assume the budgetary burden related to the acquisition of support material and individual protection Covid-19 for the election of the President of the Republic up to the maximum amount of 479,371.05 euros, plus VAT in legal terms", according to joint ordinance of the Ministry of Finance and the MAI to which Lusa had access. The presidential elections, which take place in the midst of the covid-19 epidemic in Portugal, are scheduled for 24 January and this is the 10th time the Portuguese have been called to choose the President of the Republic in democracy since 1976.
The election campaign takes place between Sunday, 10 January, and 22 January, with the country living under restrictive measures due to the epidemic. Seven candidates are running for elections, Marisa Matias (supported by the Left Bloc), Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (PSD and CDS/PP) Tiago Mayan Gonçalves (Liberal Initiative), André Ventura (Chega), Vitorino Silva, better known as Tino de Rans, João Ferreira (PCP and PEV) and PS militant Ana Gomes (PAN and Livre). Since 1976, presidents were António Ramalho Eanes (1976-1986), Mário Soares (1986-1996), Jorge Sampaio (1996-2006) and Cavaco Silva (2006-2016). The current head of state, elected in 2016, is Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who is reapplying for office.