Are you ready to vote in Latvia's local elections?

While June 3 is designated polling day for local elections across Latvia, early voting commences on the evening of May 31. If you are an EU citizen and have been registered in the official population register for at least 90 days, you are entitled to vote too.

Polling stations open at 17:00 on May 31 and stay open until 22:00.

On May 1 they are open 09:00 until 12:00.

On May 2 they are open 10:00 until 16:00. 

On June 3, polling stations are open from 7.00 a.m. till 10.00 p.m.  Three (3) days prior the election day for a few hours it is possible to attend the polling stations and vote beforehand.

Before you go to vote, it's a good idea to look at who is standing for election in your particular municipality. All the 8,945 submitted candidates are HERE and you can search via municipality and read their party pledges.

When you go to vote, remember to take your identity document (passport, ID card or residency permit) with you.

As regards the actual voting procedure, it's like most other countries - you go into a private voting booth to make your mark - with one peculiarly Latvian quirk.

You need to select the list of candidates for the party or political grouping you wish to support (in some cases these may be joint lists from more than one party). You then need to place a cross in the box next to the candidate's name you support. But if you see a name or names on the same list you definitely do not want to support, you are allowed to neatly cross them out.

In this way your vote for a particular party is counted, but so is your support for a particular candidate. This enables individual candidates to move up and down the party lists. This provides a fairly clear picture of which candidates the public want (and do not want) and can even have an important effect if, for example, a party has promised that the candidate with the most votes will become mayor. 

Once you have made your marks, place the paper in the envelope provided and deposit it into the ballot box, usually displayed prominently in the middle of the polling station. Congratulations, you just participated in Latvia's open democracy! 

And a reminder that if you are puzzled by a sudden halt in political campaigning, it's because  on the election day and one day prior, a complete agitation ban is in force in Latvia. While it may take some of the spice out of the election battles, it also helps combat attempts at vote-buying (or at least makes such attempts more obvious) and hopefully encourages people to make rational rather than emotional choices.

Read more about your rights and the voting procedure at the website of the Central Election Commission HERE.

As the short video below shows, there is even an opportunity for people with health problems who are unable to make it to their local polling station to vote from home.

Voting is not compulsory, as in some countries, but if you have the right to vote - please use it!

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