Venice Votes to Leave Italy Secessionists declare victory with 89% in online 'referendum' By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff Posted Mar 23, 2014 6:56 PM CDT 41 comments Comments (Shutterstock) (Newser) – Venice made its dream of independence come true on Friday, if an online poll means anything. A stunning 2.3 million voters took part in the self-organized "referendum," and 89% approved letting Veneto—the wealthy region that surrounds Venice—break away from the rest of Italy as a sovereign state, EU Observer reports. "The Venetian Republic is born again," said the "yes" camp leader to a crowd of hundreds in Treviso. A committee of ten people then declared Veneto's independence from the nation, the Daily Mail reports. Couple of problems, though. Italian reporters noted how easily non-Veneto residents could vote in the poll with fake names (one professor likened the referendum to "clicking 'like' on Facebook"). And a 1997 Venetian independence bid from Italy, led by commandos who highjacked a ferry, went nowhere. But today's secessionists claim to be different: "The media have painted us as a rag-army, but we are not so stupid," said an adviser to the movement. "It will be a peaceful change." Their main motive is economic, analysts say, for wealthy Venice sends $71 billion in tax dollars to Rome but receives $21 billion less in return.