The number of Latvian citizens requesting absentee ballots for the Oct. 7 parliamentary election more than doubled in the last 11 days before the application deadline, according to the Central Election Commission in Rīga.
A total of 557 applications were received by embassies and consulates around the world by the Sept. 15 deadline, according to commission data.
In the United States, the number of applications almost tripled in the last 11 days. Only 80 applications had been received by Sept. 4 in the Embassy of Latvia in Washington, D.C. By deadline, the number stood at 230.
Citizens abroad will still be able to vote in person at 53 polling stations that will operate in many countries on Oct. 7.
The election commission and Latvian community leaders abroad earlier acknowledged that the absentee ballot process, which required submitting one’s passport to an embassy or consulate, may have deterred some potential voters. In the United States, the American Latvian Association campaigned during the last two weeks to get more citizens to apply for absentee ballots.
Applications for absentee ballots were accepted in 38 embassies or consulates.
No applications were received in Argentina, Austria, China, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, Spain, Turkey or Venezuela. One application was received in the Czech Republic, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Portugal. Two applications were received in Belarus, Israel and Ukraine. Four applications were received in Finland, Norway and Switzerland.
Eight applications were received by the Embassy of Latvia in Denmark. Belgium and Brazil each recorded nine applications. France had 12, as did Ireland, but community leaders there anticipate that many of the 20,000-plus Latvian citizens will vote on election day in either Dublin or Cork.
The highest numbers of applications were received in countries, like the United States, that for years have had the largest and most active Latvian communities. The second highest total was in Germany, where 111 applications were received in the embassy in Berlin and the consulate in Bonn. The number of applications reaching Berlin by the deadline more than quadrupled between Sept. 4 and 15, growing from 18 to 81, according to election commission data.
Sweden accounted for 43 applications, just ahead of Australia, which recorded 42. Great Britain had 30 applications. Canada had 29.
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