On Thursday, 25 May, the Saeima adopted in the final reading amendments to the European Parliament Election Law, which set out the possibility for voters to vote at any polling station.
The amendments provide that the electronic online electoral register will be used in future elections to the European Parliament, thus voters will be able to vote at any polling station both on election day and during the early voting, as in the elections of the Saeima. So far, voting in the elections to the European Parliament was permitted only in the polling station, where the voter is registered.
Previously, the Chair of the Public Administration and Local Government Committee Daiga Mieriņa noted that the online electoral register provided by the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs is intended to be used in the next elections to the European Parliament. “However, the question how to maximise the digitalisation of the work of election organisers remains open and unresolved. This would facilitate many procedures at polling stations, which are still done manually in many places. For example, the time for counting votes would be reduced, and the compilation and publication of the election results would be quicker,” said D.Mieriņa.
With amendments, the opening hours of polling stations have been reduced by one hour and will be opened from 8:00 to 20:00 on election day.
In order for voters who cannot vote on the election day to be able to do so at a different time, the working hours of the polling stations during the early voting have also been changed. They will be open on Monday from 8:00 to 13:00, on Thursday from 16:00 to 20:00, and on Friday from 13:00 to 18:00. So far, early vote polling stations worked for certain hours on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before the election day on Saturday.
The amendments set out the obligation for the Central Election Commission to publish party pre-election programmes, lists of candidates and information on candidates on its website in audio format, as well as information on the accessibility of polling stations for voters in wheelchairs.
For example, if one is not able to vote or sign on the electoral roll because of physical disability, they will be assisted by a member of the relevant polling station commission. The member of the commission will have to confirm in writing that he or she will not influence or disclose the voter’s vote.
The amendments also specify the procedure for organising remote voting, including in prisons, and provide that postal voting may be applied from the 35th day before the election day, instead of the previous 42 days. One can apply for postal voting on the Public Administration Services Portal.
The changes also affect the deposit of a security, namely, for each list of candidates nominated for the European Parliament elections EUR 8 000 will have to be paid instead of the previous EUR 1 400.
The amendments provide a solution for cases where it is not possible to verify that the details of the person have been entered in the electoral register during the election period for technical reasons. In such cases, the Electoral Commission will ensure voting with a registration envelope.
Saeima Press Service