Health Board: Coronavirus certificate not required at polling stations

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Viimsi Municipality mayor elections. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

No one will be asked to produce a vaccination certificate at the polling station during the October 17 municipal elections in Estonia, the Health Board has said.

However, if symptoms of illness occur, the person must stay at home and vote online or have the ballot box brought to their home by the local government.

Üllar Lanno, director general of the Health Board, said while different options and measures to ensure the safety of the electoral process were proposed during the discussions on the organization of the elections, it is important to ensure that as many people as possible could exercise their civic duty.

"While elections have increasingly moved to electronic channels in Estonia, many wish to go to the station in person on the election day, where both the members of the electoral committee and voters are at risk of infection. As a result of the discussions, we came to the conclusion together with the State Electoral Office that we will take all possible infection safety measures, but we will not ask for various certificates at the door," Lanno said.

Arne Koitmäe, the head of the State Electoral Office, said elections can be held safely for everyone if we adhere to nationwide agreements together. 

"Voters must be prepared to wear a mask to the polling station, keep a distance from others and disinfect their hands. These rules have been applied by all countries that have so far had to take into account the restrictions caused by the virus when conducting elections," Koitmäe said.

The head of the State Electoral Office recommended that people go to the polling station to vote in the week before Sunday.

"That way you can choose a time that suits you, when the polling stations are quieter and less crowded," he said.

Koitmäe explained that voting is a fundamental right in Estonia and therefore voting at polling stations cannot be restricted on the basis of whether or not the voter has a vaccination certificate. 

However, voters who are required to self-isolate, are close contacts of an infected person or have the infection themselves are not allowed to come to the polling station.

"In such cases, voters have the option of voting electronically or they can contact their local authority and have a ballot box brought to their home," Koitmäe said.

Lanno added that it is not possible to predict the exact epidemiological situation at the time of the election, but noted that the start of the school year may increase the number of infections. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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