Votes cast in the Saeima elections are counted at polling stations in the evening and at night after polling stations close. Votes received by post from voters abroad will be counted when voting is closed at all polling stations established abroad. Due to the time difference with Latvia, this will be on Sunday, 2 October.
On election night, from 1 to 2 October, the Central Election Commission's 14th Saeima election page sv2022.cvk.lv will provide provisional election results from all polling stations in Latvia, broken down by list (party, alliance of parties) and candidate. It will be known what % of the votes the list has received and whether it has passed the 5% barrier. Provisional results from all polling stations, including those abroad, will be available on the evening of Sunday, 2 October.
On election night, it will also be possible to follow provisionally how the list of elected members of the Saeima changes depending on the results of the polling stations.
However, the Central Election Commission will announce the final results of the elections on which members of the Saeima have been elected to the 14th Saeima after the verification of the counting protocols of all polling stations. The final election results and the list of elected members of the Saeima are usually confirmed within two to three weeks after the elections.
Observers and media representatives may follow the vote count without interfering with the work of the polling station commission. No more than two authorised observers from each party or alliance of parties that have submitted a list of candidates in the constituency may observe the counting of votes in the polling station at the same time.
The counting of the votes shall be conducted by the chairperson of the polling station commission.
Before the counting begins, the electoral commission shall seal the ballot box slots, close the voters' lists and remove any unused ballot papers from the counting room, and shall place the election materials and forms not used in the counting in such a way that they do not interfere with the counting of the votes.
Ballot boxes shall be opened one at a time. When a ballot box is opened, its contents shall be sorted into the valid envelopes and others. If there are ballot papers without envelopes in the ballot box, they shall be removed immediately and packed.
The valid ballot envelopes shall be counted. Only ballot envelopes bearing the stamp of the relevant polling station and the indication of the elections to the 14th Saeima shall be valid. The exception shall be postal ballot envelopes. Valid ballot envelopes shall be counted at least twice. The remaining envelopes shall be destroyed and packed.
An important condition for determining the number of valid envelopes is that the number of valid envelopes in the ballot boxes may not exceed the number of voters entered in the lists of voters corresponding to the ballot boxes.
The valid envelopes from all the boxes shall then be gathered, counted and opened. If an envelope contains a single ballot paper, it shall be placed together for counting. If, on opening the envelope, it contains more than one ballot paper, a torn ballot paper, a ballot paper for another constituency, they shall be returned to the envelope and handed to the chairperson of the commission. The Electoral Commission shall decide on the marks contained in these envelopes. The envelopes containing no ballot papers shall also be handed over to the chairperson of the commission.
The ballot papers shall be invalid:
1) if the ballot papers are torn to such an extent that the voter's choice cannot be understood,
2) if they are from another constituency,
3) if there are several ballot papers with different contents in the envelope
(ballot papers for the same list of candidates with different marks for the candidates shall also be ballot papers with different contents),
4) if there are several ballot papers with the same contents in the envelope, then one ballot paper shall be valid and the others shall be invalid.
The envelopes containing the invalid ballot papers and the empty ballot papers shall be packed by the station committee so as not to interfere with the counting and the valid ballot papers shall be counted.
The sorting and counting of the valid ballot papers by list of candidates and the counting of the marks (pluses, strikethroughs) received by the candidates may be done in two ways: by scanning or by not scanning the ballot papers.
Counting of votes
1. Counting the votes without scanning the ballot papers
Valid ballot papers shall be sorted by list of candidates. The ballot papers cast for each list of candidates shall then be counted. The result shall be announced to those present and to the Central Electoral Commission.
The next step in the counting shall be to count the amended and unamended ballot papers cast for each list. Amended ballot papers are those on which the voter has made at least one '+' mark or strikethrough. Unamended ballot papers are those without any '+' mark or strikethrough.
After sorting, unaltered ballot papers shall be packed. The marks made for each candidate shall then be counted in each list of candidates. The ballot papers shall be divided into three groups:
Group 1 – ballot papers bearing a '+' mark against the name of the relevant candidate;
Group 2 – ballot papers with the candidate’s name crossed out;
Group 3 – ballot papers with no amendments to the relevant candidate.
If a candidate is marked with both a '+' and a strikethrough, it is considered that no mark has been made for that candidate (Group 3).
This is how the marks for all candidates on all lists shall be counted.
2. Counting the votes by scanning the ballot papers
The chairman of the station committee shall ensure that authorised observers and media representatives are able to observe the scanning and counting without obstruction.
Before the scanning begins, the valid ballot papers shall be sorted and counted by list of candidates. This result shall be recorded in the poll book so that it can be compared with the results of the scanning.
All valid ballot papers shall then be scanned consecutively. Once the scanning is complete, the system shall automatically sort the ballot papers by list of candidates. This is possible because each list has a specific bar code which is recognised by the system.
The electronic counting system then counts the '+' marks and strikethroughs for the candidates on each ballot paper. This process is semi-automated. The counting is carried out by one member of the committee, in full view of everyone on a computer screen, whose image is projected on the wall or on other screens. If a mark made by a voter on a ballot paper is unclear, the precinct committee shall decide by a majority vote on the validity of that mark.
After the results of the counting have been confirmed, the precinct committee shall communicate them to the authorised observers and media representatives present and to the Central Election Commission.
How is the 5% barrier calculated?
The Central Election Commission calculates which lists of candidates have overcome the 5% barrier to enter the Saeima in accordance with the procedure set out in Section 38 of the Law on the Election of the Saeima. The percentages are determined by dividing the total number of valid ballot papers cast for the list (in all constituencies combined) by the total number of valid ballot envelopes in the whole country and multiplying by 100%.
How are votes cast for candidates calculated?
This is laid down in Section 39 of the Law on the Election of the Saeima, which states that the number of votes cast for a candidate shall be equal to the number of votes which were cast for the list of candidates in which this candidate was included, minus the number of ballot papers in which the given name or surname of this candidate was struck out, plus the number of those ballot papers in which voters made a "+" mark opposite the surname of this candidate.
How can election results be contested?
According to the law, the submitter of the list of candidates and the nominated candidate have the right to become acquainted with the vote counting report and to contest the report to the Central Election Commission within three working days after the decision to approve the results of the report has been made. The Central Election Commission shall examine the submission and make a decision within three working days. A decision of the Central Election Commission on the contested vote counting report of the polling station commission may be appealed to the court within three working days after the day of making thereof.
The provisions for counting votes can be found in:
1. Chapter IV the Law on the Election of the Saeima.
2. The instructions of the Central Election Commission, available at www.cvk.lv