So far just 87 citizens abroad—with the lion’s share from Norway—have requested absentee ballots for the Oct. 2 parliamentary election in Latvia, according to the Central Election Commission in Rīga.
The number represents the total requests received during May and June. A total of 24 Latvian embassies and consulates around the world are accepting requests to vote by mail. Citizens abroad have until Sept. 10 to submit their requests.
Of the 87 requests received so far, 63 were filed in the Latvian embassy in Oslo, Norway. Many of those absentee ballot requests were filed by Latvian soldiers who will be serving in Afghanistan on election day, according to the commission. Of the remaining requests, 10 were filed in the embassy in Washington, D.C.; 5 in the embassy in Berlin, Germany; and 4 in the embassy in Ottawa, Canada. Two requests each were filed in the embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, and the honorary consulate in Perth, Australia. One request was filed in the Latvian embassy in Dublin, Ireland.
Arnis Cimdars, chairperson of the election commission, said citizens abroad usually vote on election day at designated polling stations, or simply do not vote. He suggested the reluctance to request mail ballots is tied to the need for citizens to submit their passports along with the application form.
However, since the last parliamentary election in 2006, the absentee ballot process has been modified to allow citizens more time to file requests and to allow them to submit their requests through a person whom they trust.
In advance of the 2006 election, a total of 557 absentee ballot requests were received by embassies and consulates, many in the last two weeks of the application period.
Instructions for filing absentee ballot requests may be found on the Central Election Commission’s website, www.cvk.lv.
Latvian citizens abroad also will be able to vote at one of 64 polling stations that will operate in 37 countries.
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