Elections, EU – Baltic States, Latvia

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Tuesday, 02.06.2020, 11:03

Saeima passes bill to extend polling stations' opening hours on Friday

BC, Riga, 23.05.2019.Print version
Saeima on Thursday passed amendments to the Elections to the European Parliament Law to extend polling stations' opening hours to 8:00 p.m. this Friday, which is the last day of early voting in the European Parliament elections, informed LETA.

For the amendments to come into effect, President Raimonds Vejonis has to promulgate them today. The president's advisor Kristine Klaveniece told  that Vejonis would sign the bill into law.

Under the draft amendments proposed by opposition lawmakers, polling stations will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Friday.

Originally, the polling stations were supposed to be open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday.

At today's meeting of the Saeima Public Administration Committee it was indicated that voters will still have to cast their ballots at the polling stations where each of them has been registered. Central Election Commission head Kristine Berzina said that it was not clear whether the online data exchange system, which crashed on Thursday, will be up and running on Friday.

A representative of the Saeima Legal Office voiced concerns about the bill, saying that changing election rules during elections is legally unacceptable. The law expert warned that the Constitutional Court can rule the legislation unconstitutional, which in turn might affect the result of the election.

As reported, polling stations today were open for three hours - from 9:00 a.m. until noon, but due to technical problems, many voters were not able to vote. This is the main reason MPs put forward this emergency bill to extend tomorrow's working hours.

As reported, a glitch in the Central Election Commission's online data exchange system prevented several hundred voters from casting their ballots in the European Parliament elections on the second day of early voting, LETA learned.

Those voters who arrived at the polling stations where they had not been registered were unable to vote due to the system error. By 11:00 a.m. around 100 voters, for instance, were turned away at a polling station in the House of Congresses in Riga.

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