Vote Covid safely in Finland’s first provincial elections

Vote Covid safely in Finland's first provincial elections

Finns will vote on Sunday in the first provincial elections, where ballot boxes are open until 8 p.m. Voters will elect representatives to the 21 new provincial councilors, who will decide on social, health and rescue services in each welfare service over the next four years.

Some researchers have predicted a low turnout because the public does not understand the new system, but also because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which still brings in thousands of new infections every day.

Last year’s municipal elections were postponed from April to June due to the coronavirus situation. However, the electoral authorities decided not to delay the historic provincial elections.

By Arto Jääskeläinen, the head of the election administration in the Ministry of Justice, has made every effort to ensure safe voting procedures.

"These elections will be held in exactly the same way as last summer’s municipal elections. We operate in accordance with specific guidelines issued by THL and the Ministry of Justice," Jääskeläinen told Yle.

Bring your own pen if you want

He said all polling stations are well ventilated and the surfaces have been disinfected.

Each voter can bring their own pen to write the number of the candidate they want on the ballot paper. And everyone should follow familiar guidelines for keeping a social distance, using face shields, and cleaning their hands.

The article continues after the picture

Drive-in vote last summer.Petteri Bülow / Yle

Those in quarantine or at-risk groups can vote outdoors or in the car. The matter can be agreed in advance by calling the municipal elections.

The biggest challenge for practical implementation is the quarantine of Covid for both voters and election officials. Thanks to the fast-spreading Omicron variant, there are a lot of people in quarantine all over Finland.

Jääskeläinen said that those in quarantine also have the right to vote.

"For them, voting shall be organized in such a way that they can vote outside the polling station," he said.

According to the rules laid down by the Electoral Commission, voting can take place in a car or in a booth outside the polling station.

According to Jääskeläinen, those in quarantine must contact the municipal central election committee before arriving to receive instructions. Contact information is available here.

Source: The Nordic Page


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