Report: Low-income voter turnout down in municipal elections

Finland's local elections were postponed because of the Covid crisis.

Finland is set to hold regional elections in January, to elect representatives to 21 new assemblies responsible for health and social care. File photo of voter casting a ballot. Image: Petri Niemi/Yle

Turnout in the 2021 municipal election was down among voters with lower incomes and lower education levels compared to previous elections, according to a new report (siirryt toiseen palveluun) from Helsinki Graduate School of Economics.

The report found that advance voting was more popular than usual, especially in areas with high Covid case counts.

The 2021 elections were originally scheduled to be held in April, but were postponed until June because of the escalating pandemic.

Election officials made several changes to try to maintain turnout levels even though in-person campaigning was much reduced from a normal election year, when candidates tend to throng market squares handing out leaflets and coffee as they discuss politics with voters.

Advance voting periods were extended, with extra locations added to encourage turnout. The GSE report suggests that was a successful policy decision, but warns that it may have contributed to exacerbating previous disparities in voting enthusiasm.

Finland is set to hold regional elections in January, to elect representatives to 21 new assemblies responsible for health and social care. Non-citizens resident in Finland are eligible to vote in those elections, subject to the qualifying period of residency.