The next election for the Saeima, Latvia’s parliament, is scheduled Oct. 7. As in previous elections, Latvian citizens living abroad will be able to cast ballots for the 9th Saeima. However, this year voting will be eased with the establishment of multiple polling places. In previous years, voters had to either cast ballots by mail or appear at the nearest Latvian embassy or consulate.
Latvian ciitzens abroad also may vote by mail. Those wishing to do so have until Sept. 15 to submit their passport and a request for an absentee ballot. The request must be submitted to the closest Latvian embassy (or, in some cases, a consulate) using a form available from the Central Election Commission in either Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word format. The commission also provides a list of locations where absentee ballots may be requested.
Latvian citizens who live abroad, but find themselves in Latvia on election day, may also vote at a local polling place.
In the United States, according to the Embassy of Latvia, polling places will be set up in Boston; Chicago; Cleveland, Ohio; Los Angeles; Minneapolis, Minn.; New York; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Seattle, Wash., and Washington, D.C.
In Canada, polling places will be located at the Embassy of Latvia in Ottawa and in the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto.
In the United Kingdom, polling places will be set up in London, Bradford and the Straumēni rest home in Catthorpe.
Voters in Ireland will be able to cast ballots at the Embassy of Latvia in Dublin. One interesting factor to watch in this year’s election will be whether the estimated 20,000 Latvian citizens now in Ireland will swell the ranks of those voting abroad. In 2002, the total votes cast abroad was 7,367, down 27 percent from the 10,080 votes cast in the 1998 election.
In Sweden, voting will take place in Stockholm and Göteborg.
In Germany, polling places will be located at the Latvian embassy in Berlin and the consulate in Bonn.
Polls will be open Oct. 7 from 07:00 hours until 22:00 hours.
All 100 members of parliament are to be elected. Political parties have until Aug. 8 to submit their candidate lists. The first to submit its list, with 89 candidates, was the conservative party Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK (For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK).
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