Latvian citizens in Canada anxiously waiting for their missing European Parliament absentee ballots should see them by June 7, weeks after they were mailed from Rīga, according to Latvijas Pasts. In the meantime, the Latvian embassy in Ottawa is trying to expedite the return of completed ballots to Rīga before the election deadline.
The election is June 12. Absentee ballots have to be received back in Latvia by the time polls close at 10 p.m. that day.
Rather than directly mailing their completed ballots back to Rīga, Ottawa-area voters may deliver them to the Latvian embassy by noon on June 10. The embassy has received permission to collect the ballots and return them to Rīga with an embassy official who is returning to Latvia before the election, said Irīna Mangule, first secretary for consular affairs.
The embassy is attempting to arrange with Honorary Consul Imants Rūdolfs Purvs in Toronto and soon-to-be-named Honorary Consul Roberts Kleišs in Montreal to help collect ballots from voters in those communities and return them to Rīga by express courier, Mangule added.
Canada Post on June 4 told Latvijas Pasts that it has now received all three mailbags containing 467 absentee ballots, representing all ballots sent to Canada by the Central Elections Commission, Latvijas Pasts Press Secretary Edijs Šauers said by telephone from Rīga.
It still is not clear why delivery of the mailbags was delayed, Latvijas Pasts said in a press release. The post office began an investigation after being told June 1 by the Latvian embassy in Ottawa that the absentee ballots had not been received by voters.
The investigation revealed that the three mailbags had reached Chicago, from where they were to be transported by Canadian Airlines to a mail distribution center in Montreal. On June 3, Latvijas Pasts was informed that only one of the bags had reached Montreal. Now, however, the other two bags have been found.
At fault might be the U.S. Postal Service, Mangule said, because the mailbags reached Chicago on May 16, but apparently did not leave there until May 27.
In all, 3,215 Latvian citizens have requested absentee ballots, according to data compiled by the Central Elections Commission. Of those, 2,310 live abroad; the rest expect to be abroad during the June 12 election.
Completed absentee ballots already are being received in Rīga, Šauers told Latvians Online.
The 10 countries with the largest total number of absentee ballot requests are the United States (958), Australia (513), Canada (467), the United Kingdom (208), Germany (179), Brazil (107), Belgium (106), Sweden (104), Venezuela (77) and Russia (50).
A total of 42 nations are represented among the absentee ballot requests, including places such as China, Egypt and Lebanon.
Only those ballots mailed to Canada were delayed, Šauers said.
Mail between Latvia and the United States and Canada normally takes about four to five days, according to Latvijas Pasts.
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