Voting at polling stations becomes more flexible from 2021 ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

A ballot box (picture is illustrative).
A ballot box (picture is illustrative). Source: ERR

Voters will be able to cast a ballot at any polling station in their district - rather than at a specific polling station - in future elections after new amendments came into force on January 1.

The new amendments to the Referendum Act and the election acts make voters independent from specific polling stations. They also changed the voting schedule and eliminated the restrictions on political campaigning. Instead of the voter's card, the voters will receive an elections information notice.

Electronic lists introduced

This year, the State Electoral Office will introduce an electronic list of voters which will replace the paper previously used. This means a voter is no longer tied to a specific polling station; instead, they can choose the most convenient place in their electoral district. During referendums, voting is possible at around 400 places in Estonia.

The election schedule will change

Voting will be condensed into one week. From Monday to Saturday and will be possible either by ballot paper in a polling station or online. On Sunday, voting is only possible by ballot paper. If a voter votes online and at a booth, only the paper ballot will be counted and it cancels out the online vote.

Voters will now receive an elections information notice

Previously, every eligible voter received a voter's card to their home address or by e-mail. Now, one non-personalised elections information notice will be sent to any address or e-mail which has been registered as contact information for at least one eligible voter. The purpose of the elections information notice is to provide general information about the right to vote and on the location of all the polling places in the municipality.

Campaigning restrictions are eliminated

From 2021, political outdoor advertising is allowed throughout the entire election period. Active campaigning is also allowed on the election day. Political campaigning is no longer banned in indoor spaces through which the voters enter the polling place. Polling place itself must remain strictly free of advertising. For example, if the polling place is set up in a cultural or shopping centre, campaigning is banned only in the space where the voting takes place.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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