U.S., Australia lead in European Parliament absentee ballot requests

More than 1,500 absentee ballots have been requested by Latvian citizens living abroad who want to vote in the European Parliament election scheduled June 6, according to the Central Election Commission in Rīga.

The number of ballots is half that requested in the last European Parliament election in 2004.

Of the total 1,532 absentee ballot requests, the largest share came from the United States (399) and Australia (326), two countries with large diaspora Latvian populations.

In all, absentee ballot requests were received from Latvian citizens in 39 different countries. The European Parliament election is being run concurrently with local government elections in Latvia. While 950 polling stations will be open around Latvia on June 6, none will be open abroad.

For absentee ballots to be counted, they must be returned to Rīga by the time polls close at 10 p.m. Latvia time on June 6.

Other countries with notable numbers of ballot requests from Latvian citizens include Belgium with 154; Great Britain, 109; and Canada, 102. A total of 72 requests came from Afghanistan, most likely from Latvian troops stationed there.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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