April 06, 2004
Latvian citizens abroad who want to vote in the nation’s first European Parliament election on June 12 have until May to request absentee ballots, the Central Election Commission in Rīga has announced.
Latvians will elect nine members to the parliament, which enacts European Union legislation in concert with the Council of Ministers. Latvia, along with nine other countries from Eastern and Central Europe, officially join the EU on May 1. At present, the European Parliament has 626 members from 15 countries, with the largest political blocs belonging to Christian Democrats and Socialists. Germany has the greatest amount of MPs with 99, followed by France, Italy and the United Kingdom, each with 87.
The Latvian candidates for the European Parliament won’t be known until April 8, the deadline for candidate filings.
Requests for absentee ballots must be received by May 1 at one of 40 embassies or consular offices abroad, or by May 13 at a special absentee ballot office in Rīga.
The requests must include the person’s name and surname, their personal code, their home address and the address to where ballots should be mailed.
In the United States, requests for absentee ballots may be sent to the Latvian Embassy in Washington, D.C., or to Latvia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.
In Canada, requests may be mailed to the embassy in Ottawa or to the honorary consulate in Toronto.
Latvian citizens in the United Kingdom should contact the embassy in London, while those in Ireland should contact the embassy in Dublin. In Germany, requests should be sent to the Latvian embassy in Berlin. Latvians living in Sweden may contact the embassy in Stockholm.
In Australia, requests may be mailed to the honorary consulates in Adelaide, Melbourne or Sydney.
If the May 1 deadline is missed, requests will be taken until May 13 at the absentee ballot office in Latvia: Vēlēšanu iecirknis balsošanai pa pastu, Elizabetes ielā 57, Rīga LV 1050, Latvia.
More information about voting in the European Parliament election is available from the Central Election Commission and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The latter’s Web site includes a downloadable absentee ballot request form.
Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000-2012 he was editor of the website.