Monday January 17, 2022

1st ever county polls’ advance ballot begins

Published : 12 Jan 2022, 02:37

Updated : 12 Jan 2022, 02:39

  DF Report

A voter was seen casting vote in the last municipal elections in 2021. DF File Photo.

The advance voting in the first ever county elections in the country begins on Wednesday and will be continued one week till 18 January amid the worsening coronavirus situation.

The advance voting will continue till 15 January abroad, said the Ministry of Justice in a press release.

The county elections are scheduled to be held on 23 January in 21 wellbeing services (social, health and rescue services) counties.

The residents of Helsinki will not vote in the elections, because the City of Helsinki will continue to be responsible for social, health and rescue services in Helsinki. Åland will be also excluded in the polls as it will be not affected by the health and social services reform.

The number of general advance polling stations in Finland is 900. Advance polling stations are mainly located at town halls, libraries and shopping centres.

Advance voting will be held at 94 places in 70 different countries abroad.

The total number of election day polling stations is 1,664.

The county elections will be held with the arrangements required by the epidemiological situation.

The Ministry of Justice and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) will take the development of the epidemic into account in the practical election arrangements. According to the THL, voting is a low-risk activity.

The authorities urged the people to wear face mask, use hand sanitiser and maintain sufficient physical distance from others at the polling station.

People who reach the age of 18 years on election day at the latest have the right to vote in the county elections in their wellbeing services county.

In addition to Finnish citizens, those citizens of EU Member States, Iceland and Norway who have a municipality of residence in Finland are also entitled to vote. Other foreign citizens are entitled to vote if they have had a municipality of residence in Finland for at least two years.

Voters must present proof of their identity when voting at a polling station. Official photo IDs, such as a passport, identity card and driving licence, are accepted as proof of identity. The old cardboard driving licence is also accepted, if the voter can be identified from the photo and the election official can thus reliably verify the voter's identity.

Voters who do not have a valid proof of identity can obtain a temporary identity card free of charge from the police for voting purposes.

Election officials may ask voters to briefly remove their face mask to verify their identity.

Meanwhile, the campaign of the first ever county elections are yet to gain momentum in most of the regions and the candidates feared poor turnout amid the worsening coronavirus situation.

Very few billboards, placards and posters of the candidates were seen besides the streets and important vantages in most of the cities resulting absence of polling atmospheres.

The elections failed to draw attentions of many people, particularly the immigrants as they do not have any idea about the county elections.

Moreover, some candidates, held the “quick schedules of the elections” responsible, in addition to coronavirus situation for the silent atmosphere.

“We got our candidature number on 23 December followed by Christmas vacation. Advance voting starts on 12 January and we did not get adequate time to run elections campaign,” one of the candidates contesting from Vantaa-Kerava county told Daily Finland, adding that they will put billboards and posters on display besides roads and vantages, although the advance voting is starting.

Another candidate also opined that more time might help them to get preparation to run enough campaign to create awareness among the voters about the importance of the county polls.

Both the candidates also viewed that there is a risk for poor turnout in the elections.