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Polls open to voters in Finland's municipal elections

Finland's municipal elections are underway, as today Sunday, April 9 is Election Day. Over 26 percent of people who are eligible to vote already cast their votes in advance voting, and experts predict total voting percentages may exceed 60 percent. The elections were moved from the autumn to the spring in order to encourage more people to go to the polls.

Kuntavaalimainoksia Turussa.
Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Finland's official Election Day for the 2017 municipal elections, April 9, sees polling stations open from 9 am to 8 pm. Over 33,000 candidates have registered as candidates for just shy of 9,000 local government position in 295 municipalities.

Both municipal and deputy councillors will be elected for a four-year term beginning on 1 June 2017.

Over 26 percent of eligible voters – or 1.1 million people – have already cast their vote in advance voting, which took place in Finland from 29 March to 1 April.

Election researcher Sami Borg from the University of Tampere predicts that the voting percentage may climb past 60 percent this year, up from the 2012 election turnout of 58.3 percent.

Voters are asked to present a picture ID when they arrive to the polling station. It is recommended that prospective voters also take their notice of their right to vote sent to their home by the Population Register Centre with them, although it is not required by law.  The notice contains information about which of the approximately 2,200 election locations the voter is entitled to use on Election Day.

The number of the candidate should be written clearly on the ballot, taking care to distinguish ones from sevens, for example. Voters should avoid drawing or writing anything else on the ballot, as any other markings will disqualify the vote.

Preliminary information on the counting of votes will be available from 8 pm. As the advanced voting percentage is relatively high, these initial results provide a good indication of how the final results will look. The central municipal election boards won't confirm the final results in each municipality until Wednesday, April 12.

Residents of the autonomous region of the Åland Islands vote at a different time than the rest of Finland. They will go to the polls next in October 2019.

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