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Early voting gets off to lively start in Finland

This year more women are running for parliamentary seats than ever.

Vaalimainoksia tarkastelevan ihmisen jalat.
Early voting began on 22 March and will end on 28 March. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
Yle News

Finland's election season is in full swing, as parliamentary election advance voting began on Wednesday.

Participation levels are about the same as they were at this point four years ago.

By 11 am on Wednesday, 1.1 percent of eligible voters had already cast their ballots. Early voting is set to continue until Tuesday 28 March.

According to Yle election analyst Sami Borg, there's a chance that voter turnout may outpace the last parliamentary elections, as the popularity of early voting has grown in recent years.

In the 2019 parliamentary elections, around 1.5 million people voted in advance, accounting for just over half (50.7%) of all votes.

Voters are choosing 200 MPs who make lasting decisions about new laws and change existing ones. A total of 2,424 candidates are running in this year's parliamentary elections. Yle's election compass helps voters find their way to a candidate that suits them.

Yle News has posted a simple guide and election video about voting, as well as information about the parties that are vying for seats in parliament. The justice ministry's Department for Democracy and Public Law has also thoroughly outlined how people can vote in advance.

Here is a list of general advance polling stations in Finland, and here are the advance voting sites located abroad. Advance voting in Finland is from 22-28 March and 22-25 March abroad.

Most advanced voting stations are located in city halls, libraries and other municipal facilities, but there is at least one such station in every municipality. Finland also provides special advance polling stations for citizens in hospitals, prisons and some other institutions.

Additionally, people with mobility issues are offered the opportunity to vote from home, with an election commissioner coming to pick up their ballots. Crews aboard Finnish ships are also given the right to vote at sea, according to the democracy and public law department.

No online voting

Unlike its Baltic neighbour Estonia, there is no online voting arrangement in Finland. In 2017, a justice ministry working group found that the risks posed by online voting outweigh the potential benefits.

According to election analyst Borg, data security is the chief concern regarding electronic voting.

"A reliable system needs to be very secure and election authorities need to be certain that the vote counted is cast by the right person," he explained.

However a form of electronic voting was tried in the 2008 local elections, in the municipalities of Kauniainen, Karkkila and Vihti. However, due to system glitches, a second non-electronic vote was held in those municipalities.

But Borg said he thinks electronic voting will become a reality in Finland someday, if IT security and encryption systems can be made to work right.

Female candidates at all time high

The share of women among parliamentary election candidates at 42.9 percent is higher than ever. That's 0.9 percentage points more than in the 2019 parliamentary elections, according to Statistics Finland.

With 60.8 percent female candidates, the Green Party has the most women. Meanwhile, Movement Now has the fewest female candidates, at 34.5 percent. Additionally, there is a majority of women candidates in Prime Minister Sanna Marin's Social Democratic Party and coalition government partner the Left Alliance.

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