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How an Election Would Work in Finland

Ville Kokko

Posted on November 9, 2018 11:46

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I'll just tell you how the voting goes here in Finland and leave it up to the reader to draw any comparisons or conclusions with the US elections.

Following the news about the US 2018 midterm elections from the sidelines, I've seen much more news about how crazy the procedure itself was, than about the actual results.

I have worked in a number of elections here in Finland and, you know, I'd like to make some comparison and say that the way we do it clearly shows you're doing it wrong. But I'll leave it up to you to draw any comparisons or conclusions, and to decide if your procedure could be improved.

When there is an election coming up, everyone who will be eligible to vote is sent a letter informing them about it. This letter contains a form that looks as though it needs to be filled out when casting your vote. Actually, it's not needed. It's a bit of a nuisance when people bring it with them and ask whether they are needed.

There's no registering to vote, obviously.

Casting your vote can be done either during seven days of advance voting, during which time you can vote anywhere in the country or even abroad, or during the election day proper when you can only vote in your designated election precinct.

Either way, you cast a vote by writing it on a paper ballot before bringing it to the desk.

There are pretty detailed rules about how to conduct the process, ensuring privacy and proper procedure, though they can be relaxed easily if there's an actual reason, in which case, the irregularity is noted down in writing. For example, nobody else is allowed in the voting booth unless the voter feels the need to have an assistant for writing down their vote, in which case they just need to ask.

The next step is to take the ballot to the counter and prove your identity, usually with a driver's license, passport, or official ID card. There are other common sense methods, too, such as being known by the election official.

On election day, the official confirms that your name is on the printed list of those eligible to vote in that place and marks it down that you have voted, and you drop the ballot in the ballot box.

During advance voting, the official checks that you are eligible and have not already voted on their computer. You put your ballot inside a small envelope (which is not opened until they are counted anonymously), and the official puts that in another envelope which is sent to the central election committee together with the information of whose vote it is as evidence they voted.

Anyone who has trouble voting, such as trying to vote and being informed they are not on the list when they think they should be, can phone the central election committee immediately to have it sorted out.

Ville Kokko

Posted on November 9, 2018 11:46

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