Overseas voting in Latvian parliamentary election

Indeed, Latvia just had a parliamentary election, and according to data that is now available it appears that 7,530 votes outside Latvia were cast in this election, a slight increase over the 7,490 overseas ballots cast in 2002, but a substantial decline from the 10,080 ballots cast in 1998. These figures come from the Latvians Online site, and here is the article that provides the turnout data. The article has a brief description of the procedures:

In all, 53 polling stations operated outside of Latvia for this year’s election, almost twice as many as in 2002 when a total of 7,490 votes were cast abroad in person or by mail. In addition to those who voted in person, a total of 557 Latvian citizens abroad requested absentee ballots that would be returned by mail, according to the Central Election Commission in Rīga.

as well as the following reminder, which gives us some understanding of how the overseas voters in this election were authenticated:

Election day dawned overcast and at times rainy in Rīga and other parts of Latvia, but in many other spots around the world voters were greeted with clear skies.

Polls were open until 10 p.m. (22:00 hours) local time as voters selected from among 19 political parties and their 1,024 candidates for the 100-seat parliament.

Voters should remember to bring their Latvian passports with them to the polling station, Arnis Cimdars, head of the Central Election Commission in Rīga, said during an Oct. 6 press conference. He also suggested voters who need eyeglasses should remember them.

Interestingly, the overseas vote was different than the domestic vote, according to a different story in Latvians Online:

With all 1,006 districts in Latvia and abroad reporting by 1:37 p.m. local time in Latvia, Tautas partija had earned 19.49 percent of the vote; Zaļo un Zemnieku savienība, 16.69 percent; Jaunais laiks, 16.38 percent; Saskaņas Centrs, 14.42 percent; Latvijas Pirmā partija and Latvijas Ceļš, 8.59 percent; TB/LNNK, 6.95 percent, and PCTVL, 6.02 percent.

Under the Latvian electoral system, parties must earn at least 5 percent of the vote to get seats in the parliament. Which candidates actually got seats in the parliament will be clear in about three weeks, the Central Election Commission said. Ballots first need to be reviewed and notation made of candidates whose names were crossed out or who earned addtional points by voters adding a “+” next to a name.

Voters abroad disagreed with those in Latvia, giving nearly 38 percent of their ballots to Jaunais laiks, 17 percent to TB/LNNK and just under 14 percent to Tautas partija. A total of 7,530 ballots were cast at 53 polling stations abroad, with 7,490 of those counting as valid, according to provisional results compiled by the Central Election Commission in Rīga.

Interesting data, both on the participation of Latvians abroad, and on how their voting preferences differed from the domestic voters. Now if the Latvians can produce data like this, it really begs the question as to why we can’t get data like this in the United States!