Riigikogu elections start today with advance and e-voting

Advance voting at polling stations, as well as e-voting online, is underway in Estonia (picture is illustrative).
Advance voting at polling stations, as well as e-voting online, is underway in Estonia (picture is illustrative). Source: ERR

The 2019 general election effectively begins on Thursday, with the polls for advanced voting, both in person and electronically, both opening.

This advance voting, which runs for just under a week, until Wednesday, 27 February, was not the very first option for voting ahead of election day on 3 March – voting overseas started on the weekend of 16-17 February, with Estonia's foreign missions opening their doors for those Estonian citizens resident abroad – but today's phase is the first where significant numbers are likely to take part.

Electronic voting, or e-voting as it is commonly called, starts on Thursday at 09.00 EET, with advance voting in regional centres commencing three hours later at 12.00, with at least one centre for each of Estonia's 15 counties and around half a dozen in the two biggest cities, Tallinn and Tartu.

The county centre option only runs for a few days, being replaced on Monday, 25 February by the opening of all 451 polling stations in the 12 voting districts.

Voters using either the county centres or district centres to vote in person can vote in areas away from the voting district they are registered in, a legacy of solving problems for those who live in more remote areas of the country but can't or won't choose thee-voting option.

i-voting runs until 18.00 on 27 February, followed by three days' dark period where no voting can take place, until election day itself. There have been no significant changes in e-voting procedures since the last (local) elections in 2017, though some aspects of the user interface, such as being able to search candidates by name.

Additionally, an e-vote need not be final: subsequent votes either via e-voting or in a polling station can override the previous one, although this cannot be done on election day on 3 March.

On election day itself, 3 March, voting can only be conducted in the polling place of the voter's residence, or at home in the case of those not able to reach a polling station.

Thus the schedule between now and 3 March is:

Voting schedule down to election day on 3 March. Source: valimised.ee

A voter presenting at a polling station must bring along a photo identification, such as an ID-card, passport, or driver's licence. They do not have to bring their voter's card.

 More information on the county voting centres is here, on the district centres open from 25 February here , and on e-voting here.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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