On the observation of elections
Requirements for observers and the accreditation procedure
1. The course of elections, in accordance with the regulatory acts, may be observed by:
1.1. observers authorized by political parties, their associations;
1.2. Persons authorized by the Central Election Commission;
1.3. persons authorized by a city or municipality election commission.
2. For election or referendum observation political parties or their associations may authorize citizens and permanent residents of the Republic of Latvia who by the day of the election (referendum) reached the age of 18 years.
3. To receive the authorization from the Central Election Commission to observe elections or referendum, the following persons can apply:
3.1. citizens of the Republic of Latvia who have reached the age of 18 by election day;
3.2. representatives of societies, foundations, educational institutions and such legal entities, whose main field of activity and purpose is to study political processes and elections;
3.3. representatives of international organizations and other foreign institutions invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
3.4. representatives of international organizations and other foreign institutions invited by the Central Election Commission.
4. To receive the respective authorization, the persons named in paragraphs 3.2., 3.3. and 3.4. not later than two weeks before elections (referendum) shall submit an application.
5. Applications are considered and the authorization is granted or denied by the Chairperson of the Central Election Commission.
6. Representatives of societies, foundations, educational institutions and such legal entities, whose field of activity and purpose are related to the study of political processes and elections, may apply for the authorization to a city or municipality election commission to observe elections or referendums in the territory of the respective self-government. Applications are considered and the authorization is granted or denied by the chairperson of the city or municipality election commission.
Rights of observers
7. Observers have the following rights:
7.1. to observe the course of elections at a polling station;
7.2. to monitor the voting at the place of location of those voters who cannot come to the polling station for health reasons ;
7.3. to attend an open meeting of the polling station commission, at which the polling station commission is counting votes;
7.4. to affix their own stamps or put their signatures on the packages, where electoral materials are packed after vote counting;
7.5. to know the results of the vote counting immediately after the polling station commission approved them;
7.6. to submit to the chairperson of the polling station election commission a complaint in writing or verbally about violations of the electoral law;
7.7. to receive a reply from the chairperson of the polling station;
7.8. to make sure that the complaint and this reply are registered in the journal of the voting process;
7.9. if the chairperson of the polling station commission does not give a reply, to contact the higher election commission;
7.10. to ask questions to the members of the polling station election commission and other observers, as well as to answer to questions about their activities, to ask questions to voters and answer to their questions (except the questions about whom they voted or plan to vote for);
7.11. observers may choose any polling station for observation, except the observers mentioned in paragraph 3.1., who are observing at the polling station indicated by the CEC.
Obligations of observers, observation order
8. The task of observers is to monitor the course of elections and vote counting in order to ascertain their compliance with the requirements of law. For this purpose observers are obliged to acquaint themselves with the statutory acts regulating the relevant processes.
9. Observer should respect voters and their right to make free choice, moreover, the secrecy of the ballot and the right of the voter to privacy should be respected. Also, respect should be given to the members of the polling station election commission and their official duties.
10. During the election observation, it is prohibited to influence the choice of voters, to express their own political views, and also to campaign.
11. Observers should ensure that all observations that they carry out are accurate and true. Observations must be comprehensive, both positive and negative points should be noted, as well assessing should be made whether the observed fact has an influence on the legitimacy of the election. The judgments of observers should be based on accurate information, distinguishing subjective factors from objective evidence.
12. Observers should monitor that the voting and actions of the precinct election commission comply with the electoral law and the instructions of the CEC – sealing the ballot box, checking documents at the entrance, registering voters at the tables and issuing of election materials, secrecy of voting, placing the envelopes into the ballot box, vote counting and others.
13. Observers should be at such a distance from the members of the polling station election commission and voters that they do not create obstacles to voting and counting of votes. The recommended distance is not closer than at arm's length. Also, observers should not be in a place where they interfere with the flow of voters.
14. Observers should not interfere with the polling station election commission and voters with loud conduct, and they must obey the instructions of the chairman of the polling station election commission to observe silence. Observers are allowed to speak quietly.
15. It is advisable that the polling station election commission indicates seats to observers, but observers are not required be only on seating places.
16. If an observer notices errors or irregularities in the work of the polling station election commission, it is the observer's duty to inform about it the chairman of the commission without delay. If the observation is justified, the chairman of the polling station election commission must immediately remove the error or irregularities.
17. If the chairman of the commission does not take into account the observer's comments, the observer may submit a written complaint. The commission must reply to it in writing.
18. If the explanation or the reply of the polling station election commission does not satisfy the observer, he (she) should inform the relevant municipal election commission about the observation. In the case of major irregularities, which may be grounds for raising doubts about the correctness of the election results, the Central Election Commission should be informed immediately.
19. If an observer has evidence that such significant violations of the electoral process could have occurred, as for example vote buying or vote falsification, the observer should inform about it the chairman of the polling station election commission and report this case to the State Police or the Security Police.
Video recordings, photography at a polling station, at the place of voter's location
20. At a polling station, observers who have the authority not only to observe the election process at the polling station, but also to make video recording and take photographs, in compliance with the principle of vote secrecy and after informing the chairman of the polling station election commission, can do it, if it does not interfere with the work of the polling station election commission.
21. It is allowed to make video recording and take photographs of a polling station, members of the polling station election commission, as well as identifiable voters, if the voter's unambiguous consent to the processing of his/her personal data is received (the voter has allowed to take his/her photographs, to make video recording) or if at the polling station an indication is presented that issued by the empowered person or authorized observer, containing at least such information:
21.1. data controller or processor,
21.2. recipient of data, contact information,
21.3. period for which the personal data is stored (no more than ten days after the first meeting of the newly elected Saeima or until the date of effect of the court decision on the appeal case),
21.4. institution for filing a complaint (Data State Inspectorate).
22. At the place where a voter is located, observers who monitor the voting at the place of residence of the voter and who are authorized to take photographs and make video recording, can do this only if the voter has been explained his/her rights and voter’s unambiguous agreement is obtained.
23. Before taking photographs or making video recording at the place of residence of a voter, the observer informs the voter about:
23.1. the goal, legal basis, data controller or processor,
23.2. the recipient of the data and the use of the data obtained,
23.3. the ability to withdraw their consent to the processing of data (erasure of data).
24. In hospitals, care homes, social assistance centers taking photographs and making video recording of voting process and voters is prohibited.