Police receive more than 100 notifications of election-related breaches

PPA officer's high-vis vest (photo is illustrative).
PPA officer's high-vis vest (photo is illustrative). Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

The police have received about 100 notifications of possible breaches in connection with the ongoing local elections in Estonia, such as damaging election advertising and vote influencing.

The police said on Friday they are checking on all reports and tip-offs.

Tago Trei, chief of operations at the Police and Border Guard Board, said it is common for the police to receive more reports and tip-offs about possible breaches during the run-up to the elections.

"We see that people have high expectations for the integrity and ethics of elections, and any dishonest behavior in this regard infringes people's sense of fairness and is reported to the police," he said.

Officers across Estonia have received tip-offs that people have been influenced to cast their vote for a particular candidate or someone's ID has been misused. The police take such reports seriously and all reports are checked.

They have also received reports of damage to election advertising, and a dozen criminal proceedings have been opened.

"People may not be aware that this is an offense that can lead to a penalty. We are also examining the motives behind the act to find out whether it is hooliganism or part of the pre-election struggle where one would try to cause harm to other candidates," the officer said.

Proceedings have been initiated both under the section on offenses against property of low value and under the section on obstruction of election campaigning.

On the main election day, additional police patrols will be deployed to help ensure order near polling stations if necessary, who are ready to respond quickly to reports of possible violations. 

"For the first time, election advertising and canvassing is allowed throughout the election week, including on the election day. We urge candidates to do so in a way that respects people's freedom to choose, so that no one feels obliged to vote for a particular person. Election canvassing is permitted near polling stations, but one must remember that it must not be heard inside the polling station or interfere with its work or distract voters there," Trei said.

The police also point out that due to the spread of coronavirus, the obligation to wear a mask in public spaces remains in force.

"Polling stations are also a public space, and we ask those going to the polls to abide by the rules and wear a mask," the officer said.

It is also essential that people who are required to self-isolate due to falling ill with coronavirus or who are close contacts do not go to a polling station but cast their vote electronically. This can still be done until 8 p.m. on Saturday, Trei added.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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