Borja Sanchez Trillo/Getty Images
Elisabeth Sherman
October 13, 2017

 On October 1, the people of Catalonia, a region within Spain, gathered to vote for independence. The vote—which had to be clandestinely organized—ended in violent clashes with police, according to the New York Times, because the government in Madrid had declared the vote unconstitutional. Still didn’t stop Catalonians from turning out to the polls, and voting overwhelmingly in favor of independence. Because of the Spanish’s government efforts to crack down the independence referendum, organizers within Catalonia had to code words when discussing how to implement the vote. In conversation with each other, they called ballot boxes pizzas and the ballots themselves napkins.

A report from The Intercept, which details how Catalonians managed to organize the vote in secret, reveals the unusual tactics they used to arrange the vote. Besides those nicknames for the ballots and ballot boxes, the government official who opened the voting center “was called 'la pizzera'— the pizza maker.” The organizers who stopped by each polling center to make sure that they were supplied with enough ballots were called the “Telepizzas,” after a “cheap pizza delivery chain.”

Even in the face of resistance from the central Spanish government, Catalonia had been organizing the vote for months. A week before the vote took place, Spanish police were ordered to shut down any spaces that might be converted to polling places, but “ordinary citizens” took it upon themselves to occupy buildings like schools, in one case even organizing a week-long rock-paper-scissors tournament.

The president of the region, Carles Puigdemont, has actually already signed a mandate declaring independence, but this week decided to suspend the effects of the document in favor of negotiating with officials from the Spanish government. The clearly immensely brave—and clever—organizers of the vote will just have to wait to see if their efforts will actually result in true sovereignty for Catalonia.