Concerns raised about COVID-19 restrictions during Riga election

Juris Kokins, head of Riga City Central Election Commission (CVK) said August 12 on Latvian Television that he is worried about following precautionary measures for the prevention of COVID-19 spread during election period.

He said holding election at COVID-19 times is a big challenge and it isn't clear how and what to do. “The organizational side is just half the issue, but we do not know what the epidemiological and political atmosphere will be at that moment,” Kokins said, predicting that there will be problems during the election week.

“[We fear] that we will not be able to comply with the COVID-19 limitation rules,” Kokins said, adding that crowding is not acceptable. He asked voters to remain calm.

Kokins said that the CVK would try to provide distancing in different ways, including signs and labels. Voters will also be given face masks and pens if they don't have their own. Surfaces will also be disinfected.

He also said that another challenge was home voting. “We don't know who we're going to – whether it's COVID-19 or not. Consequently, we must protect both the member of the commission and the voter. (..) There will also be a specific procedure: we will give the voting material, but we will try not to go in the room,” Kokins said.

15 political forces, who have submitted their lists of candidates, have applied for the Riga City Council's emergency elections.

In February this year, the Latvian Saeima voted to dismiss the Riga City Council. The extraordinary elections were originally planned for April but following the state of emergency the date was changed several times until it was set to August 29.

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