To help prepare for the next Saeima election in 2010, the Latvian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the American Latvian Association have organized a survey of Latvian citizens in the United States.
Results of the survey, according to the embassy and the ALA, will be used to help determine the number and location of polling stations in the United States. Polling stations are set up by Latvia’s Central Election Commission on the advice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The number of Latvians citizens voting in the United States has decreased with each parliamentary election. During the last election in 2006, a total of 1,479 citizens in United States cast ballots. Four years earlier, in the 2002 election, a total of 1,698 ballots were cast, while the 1998 election saw 2,928 votes.
During the 2006 election, polling stations in the United States were set up in Boston; Chicago; Cleveland, Ohio; Los Angeles; Minneapolis, Minn.; New York; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Seattle, Wash., and Washington, D.C.
Other countries with large exile generation populations also have seen declines in voting. However, in countries such as Ireland and the United Kingdom, where a surge in new immigrants from Latvia has been recorded, the number of voters has jumped.
The 11-question, three-page Latvian-language survey asks about potential voters’ motivation to cast ballots in the next election as well as the best way to publicize information about the election. Survey results also will be used to understand what changes might be necessary in the election process.
Completed surveys should be returned by Oct. 31 to the embassy by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, by fax to +1 (202) 328-2860, or by postal mail to Embassy of Latvia, 2306 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20008.
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