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[With EMBs] Central Election Commission of the Republic of Latvia
Last updated 2021-11-01
Local Elections Prepared in New Conditions (Central Election Commission of the Republic of Latvia)

Latvia held regular municipal elections on 5 June and two additional municipal elections on 11 September this year. In municipal elections, for the first time, voters were given the opportunity to vote at any polling station in their municipality. To prevent the spread of the virus, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of the Republic of Latvia implemented new solutions, such as an efficient sanitary measure and drive-thru voting. Here the Secretariat shares the interview with the CEC of the Republic of Latvia discussing the recent election management in the midst of COVID-19.

Question: Which election(s) were held in 2021 in Latvia?
Answer: Regular municipal elections were held on 5 June 2021 in Latvia. Unlike previous municipal elections, there were a significantly smaller number of local governments and councillors to be elected. As a result of the administrative territorial reform, there are 43 municipalities in Latvia instead of the previous 119, while the number of councillors fell by almost half. Municipal elections took place in 40 municipalities in Latvia, while elections in two more municipalities were held on 11 September 2021 in compliance with the Constitutional Court order. Elections in the Riga municipality did not take place this year because the City Council was elected in the extraordinary elections last year and it continues to work until the elections of 2025. 

Question: How did COVID-19 change the election process and election management? 
Answer: Election campaigning was significantly limited due to the prohibition on all the public gatherings and events. Campaigning indoors was prohibited except the placement of materials of the campaign. Election campaigning outdoors in public was permitted if the maximum number of participants was 10.

An online voter register at polling stations was used for the first time in this election, which allowed voters to vote at any polling station in their municipality. The CEC approved the Recommendations for the Prevention of Infection COVID-19: at least 4 m2 of the area of the polling station’s space had to be provided per person; distance of 2 meters had to be maintained; wearing a mouth-nose mask at the polling station was mandatory, etc. Drive-thru voting was also introduced for the first time in these elections.

Members and employees of election commissions had the right to get a COVID-19 vaccine as a priority group. During the work at the polling stations, the commission was provided with personal protective equipment.

Voter turnout at local elections of 2021 reached a record low (34%), however there are no grounds to regard COVID-19 fears as the determining factor.