Spain’s Catalonia is gearing up for an independence referendum on Sunday despite attempts to hinder the process by the government in Madrid, which considers it illegal.

Catalans have staged numerous protests and occupied polling stations to secure their right to vote. Over six thousand ballot boxes will be used, and there are more than 2,300 polling stations across the region.

The referendum was not authorized by federal authorities and the country’s Constitutional Court ruled it illegal. Prior to the vote, Madrid launched a crackdown on Catalonia, local government buildings were raided and top-ranking Catalonian officials, including Junior Economy Minister Josep Maria Jové, were arrested over referendum documents. 

The government also wanted to take direct control over the local police force in a bid to halt the upcoming vote. The action was denounced it as “intervention attempt” by Catalonia’s Interior Minister, Joaquim Forn, who also said that the local police refused to comply with the order.

The Spanish government forced Google to block an application which provided information to the citizens on where and how to vote. Madrid also ordered the shutdown of all polling stations and deployed thousands of its troops to the region.

On Saturday, the Civil Guard raided the Center of Telecommunications and Technologies of Information (CTTI) to switch off applications that could be used to count the results, according to Spanish newspaper El Mundo. 

However, to make sure the vote happens locals staged numerous sit-ins at schools and other sites that are supposed to serve as polling stations.

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