The Latest: Italy's 2 richest regions see votes as historic

The Latest on autonomy referendums in Italy's two richest regions, Lombardy and Veneto (all times local):

1:40 p.m.

The leaders of Lombardy and Veneto say votes on seeking greater autonomy from Rome are a historic opportunity for their wealthy northern regions to achieve greater self-determination and keep more tax revenues.

In San Vendemiano on Sunday, Veneto President Luca Zaia said "a page of history is being written."

Lombardy President Roberto Maroni said as he voted that the referendum represented "a historic occasion" for the two leaders to seek "greater responsibilities and resources."

The leaders are seeking a resounding "yes" vote to gain political leverage in talks with Rome. Maroni has lowered turnout expectations to one-third of Lombardy's voters; by noon 6 percent had voted.

Zaia needs a quorum of 50-percent plus one to validate the referendum. By midday, Veneto turnout was 21 percent.


7 a.m.

Voters in the wealthy northern Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto are headingto the polls to decide if they want to seek greater autonomy from Rome, riding a tide of self-determination that is sweeping global politics.

While the twin referendums are non-binding, a resounding "yes" vote would give the presidents of the neighboring regions more leverage in negotiations to seek a greater share of tax revenue and to grab responsibility from Rome. The leaders want more powers in areas such as security, immigration, education and the environment.

At their respective polling places, Lombard President Roberto Maroni and Veneto President Luca Zaia cast the referendum as a historic opportunity for their regions.

Maroni says he would be happy if 34 percent of the region's 7.5 million voters cast ballots, equal to the national turnout in a 2001 constitutional referendum.

Veneto's aspirations will wither if voter turnout is below 50 percent plus one of the region's 3.5 million voters.