Decision No. 15 of the Central Election Commission
of 26 May 2022
Postal voting instructions of the election of the Saeima
I. Application for voting by post
- Voters staying abroad during the elections can vote by post in the Saeima elections.
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, no later than 75 days before the elections (in case of emergency elections - no later than five days after the announcement of the elections), submits to the Central Election Commission a proposal in which the diplomatic or consular representative offices of the Republic of Latvia (hereinafter - the representative offices) abroad will organize voting by post, specifying also contact information and working hours during which the voter will be able to submit an application for voting by post (hereinafter - application).
- No later than 70 days before the elections (in case of emergency elections - no later than a week after the announcement of the elections), the Central Election Commission makes a decision in which representative offices voting by post will be organized, and sends it to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- A voter can apply to vote by post:
- by submitting an application to the relevant representative office;
- using a free electronic service (hereinafter - e-service) available on the state administration service portal www.latvija.lv or on the official website of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (hereinafter - OCMA).
- The application can be submitted to the relevant representative office:
- in person;
- by post;
- electronically - to the electronic mail address of the relevant representative office, signed with a secure electronic signature containing a time stamp.
- You can apply for voting by post not earlier than 70 days before the election day, but not later than three weeks before the election day. When using the e-service, you can apply for voting by post not earlier than 35 days before the election day, but not later than three weeks before the election day. In the event of an emergency election, a voter may apply for voting by post not earlier than one week after the day of announcement of the election and no later than two weeks before the election.
- When applying for voting by post, the voter indicates his/her:
- name, surname;
- personal identity number;
- an electronic mail address or an indication that he/she has an activated official electronic address (or that he/she is a user of an official electronic address);
- when applying for voting by post through the e-service - the foreign country from which you plan to send your vote.
- A voter registered for voting by post can change the specified electronic mail address or indication on the existence of an official electronic address, as well as the foreign country from which he/she plans to send his vote, no later than three weeks (in case of emergency elections - no later than two weeks) before the election day, applying for postal voting once again.
II. Verification of applications and sending of voting materials
- Applications received at the representative office are transferred by the representative office to the commission of the relevant polling station (hereinafter - the polling station commission). The polling station commission shall:
- check whether the information referred to in Paragraph 7 is specified in the application;
- if the application is submitted electronically - check the validity of the electronic signature (websites https://ec.europa.eu/digital-building-blocks/DSS/webapp-demo/validation and https://www.eparaksts.lv/lv/ );
- start to fill in the list for voting by post, the sample of which is prepared by the Central Election Commission, and records information about the receipt of the application in it;
- send to the applicant's electronic mail address or official electronic address specified in the application within three working days:
- a confirmation on the receipt of the application and inform that the confirmation of the voter's registration for voting by post and the voting procedure will be sent to the voter not earlier than 21 days and not later than 15 days (in case of emergency elections – not later than 10 days) before the election day;
- information about deficiencies in the application to apply for voting by post, if any are found.
- Access to the Voter Register Information System (hereinafter - VRIS) is granted to the polling station commissions according to the following order:
- The Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs no later than 50 days before the election day (in case of emergency elections - no later than a week after the announcement of the election) submits a completed VRIS user rights request form using the official electronic address of the OCMA to the commission, which is signed with a secure electronic signature containing a time stamp;
- VRIS user details are issued by the OCMA electronically, no later than 35 days before the election day, by sending to the employee's official electronic address or encrypted to the employee's electronic mail address (by using the Open PGP encryption key).
- After the start of operation of the VRIS (35 days before the election day), the polling station commission:
- checks in the VRIS whether the applicant is a voter and whether the voter has not already registered a mark for voting by post;
- The VRIS makes a note of the voter's application for voting by post and records the electronic mail address indicated by the voter or makes a note of the existence of the official electronic address;
- VRIS records the country of voting - the country where the polling station commission works;
- a note is made in the list for voting by post that the voter is registered in VRIS for voting by post.
- If the polling station commission finds that the data of the respective voter has already been entered into the VRIS by another polling station commission, it contacts the polling station commission that entered the data and compares the times of receipt of the voter's applications. The application submitted last will be used.
- If the application is submitted failing to comply with the procedures set forth in Paragraphs 4-7, or the applicant is not a voter, the polling station commission refuses to send the election documents based on a motivated decision signed by the chairman or secretary of the commission. This decision shall be signed with a secure electronic signature containing a time stamp and sent to the applicant to the e-mail address specified in the application or to the official electronic address, if the application was submitted by using the official electronic address.
- No later than 15 days (in case of emergency elections - no later than 10 days) before the election day, the polling station commission sends the serial number assigned by VRIS to the electronic mail address included in the VRIS (if the official electronic address is indicated in the application - to the voter's official electronic address), under which he/she is registered for voting by post, (hereinafter - postal voting number) and the address of the website created by the Central Election Commission, where voting materials are available:
- ballots of all candidate lists of the Riga electoral district;
- confirmation form that the voter votes in person;
- information about the information that must be indicated on the postal envelope - a note that it contains an election envelope, the voter's name, surname, address and postal voting number, the address of sending of the postal vote (the relevant polling station commission);
- information on the voting procedure.
The polling station commission makes a note on its list for voting by post about sending of the letter mentioned in this Paragraph.
- With regard to the applications for voting by post submitted by voters in the e-service, the actions mentioned in Paragraphs 11, 13 and 14 are performed by the Central Election Commission. The Central Election Commission sends the respective polling station commissions information about voters who have applied for voting by post in the e-service. Polling station commissions supplement their voter lists for voting by post accordingly.
- A voter, who has received the website address for a postal vote, prints a ballot paper that corresponds to the list of candidates he/she is voting for.
- In the ballot paper, the voter can mark "+", leave no mark, or delete the candidate's name or surname in the space provided for the mark in front of the names of the candidates. The sign "+" is made if the voter especially supports election of the candidate. If the voter does not support any of the candidates included in this ballot, he/she deletes the name or surname of this candidate. The voter can also leave the ballot paper unchanged (without marks).
- After that, the voter places the ballot in the election envelope of his/her choice and seals the envelope. The voter places the sealed election envelope in the postal envelope of his/her choice together with a handwritten confirmation form, where he/she confirms that he/she is voting in person and indicates his/her name, surname and personal identity number. The voter indicates the following on the postal envelope:
- that it contains a ballot envelope;
- own name and surname;
- own address;
- own postal voting number;
- postal vote sending (relevant polling station commission) address.
The postal envelope is immediately sent or otherwise delivered to the polling station commission specified in the voting materials available at the sent website address.
- Several voters may send their postal envelopes in one mail. The individual postal envelopes of these voters should be placed in a common postal envelope, which should be marked as containing several ballot envelopes.
IV. Counting of votes
- The polling station commission registers the received postal envelopes in its list for voting by post and stores them in a sealed box unopened until the counting of votes begins. When the first postal envelope is received, the polling station committee prepares the box, making sure that it is empty, and secures the opening part with numbered security seals, the numbers of which are recorded in the report on sealing the box. If a common postal envelope is received, it is opened and the individual postal envelopes placed in it are stored.
- The polling station commission starts counting the votes received by post when voting has ended in all polling stations established in foreign countries. Voters applying to vote by post are marked automatically in the electronic online voter register (hereinafter - EOVR) without the action of the polling station commission. Votes received by post are counted separately by preparing separate vote counting minutes.
- Counting takes place at an open meeting of the polling station commission. Without interfering with the counting of votes, no more than two authorized observers from each political party or association of political parties that submitted a list of candidates to the Riga electoral district, as well as representatives of the Central Election Commission and the media, may be present at the meeting at the same time. After counting of votes is completed, the above-mentioned persons have the right to familiarize themselves with the minutes of the counting of votes.
- After starting the counting of postal envelopes, they are sorted into valid and invalid postal envelopes without opening them.
- Postal envelopes are considered invalid:
- sent by voters who have not applied for voting by post;
- sent by voters who, according to EOVR, voted at the polling station;
- according to which it is not possible to determine which voter has voted (voter's name, surname, postal voting number are not indicated);
- received after the start of the counting of votes;
- sent from the Republic of Latvia;
- received from voters who have sent several postal envelopes.
- Invalid postal envelopes are not opened, they are marked as "Invalid" and placed separately from other postal envelopes. Invalid postal envelopes are counted at least twice and their total is recorded in the election log. The polling station committee marks in its list for voting by post that an invalid postal envelope has been received and indicates the reason for invalidity.
- The polling station commission places the valid postal envelopes together and marks in its list for voting by post that a valid postal envelope has been received. Valid postal envelopes are counted at least twice and their total number is recorded in the election log.
- Invalid postal envelopes are wrapped, the bundle is secured with a sticker, which is stamped with the seal of the polling station commission and signed by the chairman or secretary of the commission. The packaging shall indicate its contents (for example, invalid postal envelopes) and their quantity.
- Before opening the postal envelopes, the chairman or the secretary of the polling station commission, in the presence of the commission and observers, if they have arrived, makes sure that the ballot box, where the ballot envelopes are to be dropped, is empty. The ballot box is afterwards sealed and it is marked in the election log.
- When a valid postal envelope is opened, it is checked whether it contains a valid election envelope:
- if there are several election envelopes in the postal envelope, they are placed back in the postal envelope and handed over to the chairman of the polling station commission, who makes a mark on the postal envelope and election envelopes that these envelopes are invalid and records it in the election log that there were several election envelopes in the postal envelope;
- if there is no election envelope in the postal envelope, it is handed over to the chairman of the polling station commission, who makes a mark on it about the content of the envelope and records in the election log that there was no election envelope;
- if the postal envelope contains ballots that are not in the ballot envelope, they are deleted immediately by cutting off the upper right corner. Then they are placed back in the postal envelope and handed over to the chairman of the polling station commission, who makes a mark on the content of this postal envelope and records it in the election log that there were several election envelopes in the postal envelope that are not in the election envelope;
- the election envelope is considered invalid if the postal envelope does not contain a confirmation form signed by the respective voter that he/she has voted in person.
- The opened postal envelopes, which did not contain a valid election envelope, are placed separately and packed according to the procedure mentioned in Paragraph 27. Valid election envelopes are dropped into the sealed ballot box.
- The polling station committee opens the election envelopes and continues the counting of votes after all the valid postal envelopes have been opened and the valid election envelopes in them have been dropped into the ballot box. Counting takes place in accordance with Chapter IV of the Law on the Election of the Saeima and the instructions for counting of foreign votes in the election of the Saeima.
- When counting the votes received by post, it is the duty of present persons to protect the secrecy of the election and under no circumstances to disclose the voter's choice, even if it has become known by accident.
- After the counting of votes and the completion of the minutes on the counting of votes, the polling station commission, in accordance with the procedure mentioned in Paragraph 27, packs:
- a list for voting by post;
- all valid ballots;
- invalid ballots together with ballot envelopes;
- invalid ballot envelopes;
- election log;
- vote counting minutes;
- confirmations that the voter votes in person taken from the opened postal envelopes.
- Completion of work and handling of election materials after the counting of votes takes place in accordance with the procedures specified in the instructions for counting foreign votes of the elections of the Saeima.
Chairman of the Central Election Commission
Secretary of the Central Election Commission