The 2021 Finnish municipal elections are just around the corner. They will be held on Sunday 13 June, although they were scheduled for 18 April. The government chaired by Prime Minister Sanna Marin decided in March to postpone the voting due to the Covid-19 epidemic.
In the upcoming elections, local councilors and deputy councilors will be elected for the next four-year term. The term of office of the local councils will begin on 1 August 2021 and last until 31 May 2025.
Below you can read a summary of the essential information to be able to participate in the municipal elections. The information provided in this article has been released by the Finnish Ministry of Justice.
This year, the advance voting period in Finland will exceptionally last for two weeks, from 26 May to 8 June.
Advance voting will be conducted abroad between 2 and 5 June, but the voting period is shorter than this at many of the advance polling stations abroad.
On election day, voters may only cast their vote at the polling station specified on the notice of right to vote sent to them before the elections. When voting in advance, voters may freely choose any polling station.
A list of all advance polling stations is available on the Electionsfinland.fi website of the Ministry of Justice. Information on the advance polling stations where voting will take place outdoors will be added to the website on 19 May.
Information on the addresses and opening hours of polling stations can also be obtained by calling the Elections helpline. Calls to the helpline are free of charge, and service is provided in Finnish (0800 9 4770) and in Swedish (0800 9 4771). Election-related questions can also be sent on WhatsApp (050 438 8730).
Eligible voters in municipal elections
People who reache the age of 18 years on election day at the latest has the right to vote in the municipal elections in their municipality of residence.
In addition to Finnish citizens, those citizens of EU Member States, Iceland and Norway who have a municipality of residence in Finland are also entitled to vote. Other foreign citizens are entitled to vote if they have had a municipality of residence in Finland for at least two years.
The voting municipality in the 2021 municipal elections is determined based on the information contained in the Population Information System on 23 April. The total number of eligible voters is 4,464,814.
The Digital and Population Data Services Agency will send a notice of right to vote (polling card) to all eligible voters. A list of advance polling stations close to the eligible voter’s place of residence and instructions on safe voting during the Covid-19 epidemic will be enclosed to the notice.
The notices of right to vote will be sent by post. The notice will be sent in electronic format to those eligible voters who have activated the Suomi.fi Messages service and given their consent for all official notifications to be sent to them electronically.
Candidates in municipal elections
Voters may only vote for a candidate standing for election in their municipality of residence.
The deadline for submitting candidate applications to the central municipal election boards was on 4 May. The municipalities will review the applications and confirm the nomination of candidates on 14 May.
The master list of candidates, including candidate numbers, will be published on the Electionsfinland.fi website on 14 May.
Covid-19 and safe voting
The Electionsfinland.fi website contains instructions for voters on safe voting in the municipal elections during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ministry has prepared the instructions in cooperation with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).
The purpose of the website is to provide easily understandable information on the special arrangements put in place to enable safe voting during Covid-19.
Voters must wear a face mask or covering, use hand sanitiser and stay two metres away from others at the polling station. Election officials will monitor safety at the polling stations and advise voters on how to follow the instructions.
Special measures have been planned to enable voters placed in quarantine or isolation by a doctor or having respiratory symptoms to vote. Voters can contact the central municipal election board of their municipality to ask about these special arrangements.
Proof of identity
Voters must present some form of official photo ID when voting, for example a passport, an identity card or a driving licence.
The old cardboard driving licence will also be accepted as proof of identity, if the voter can be identified from the photo and the election official can thus reliably verify the voter’s identity.
Voters who do not have a valid proof of identity can obtain a temporary identity card free of charge from the police for voting purposes.
Election officials may ask voters to briefly remove their face mask to verify their identity.
Postal voting from abroad
Eligible voters staying abroad during the municipal elections may vote by post.
Eligible voters wishing to vote by post must order the postal voting documents to an address located abroad in advance, cast their vote after receiving the documents, and send the ballot in a covering envelope to the central municipal election board of their municipality of residence in Finland.
The first possible day for postal voting is 14 May. Postal votes must arrive at the correct central municipal election board by 19:00 on Friday 11 June.
At-home voting and voting at an institution
People whose ability to move or act is limited to the degree that they cannot go to an advance polling station or the election day polling station without undue hardship have the right to vote at home.
At-home voting takes place in the voter's home during the advance voting period.
Those who wish to vote in advance in their home must notify the central municipal election board of their municipality of this by 16:00 on 1 June 2021. The family carer of a person entitled to vote at home, living in the same household, may under certain conditions also vote at home.
In accordance with a recent government proposal, a possibility for voting will now be provided for the first time in the garrisons of the Defence Forces' units providing military training and in the units of the Border Guard providing military training.
A possibility for voting will also provided at hospitals, prisons and care institutions similarly as in connection with previous elections.
During the advance voting period, up-to-date information about the number of advance voters in each municipality and electoral district and in the entire country will be published on the elections website every hour.
The central municipal election boards will start counting the advance votes on 13 June at 12:00 at the earliest. Preliminary information on the vote count will be published starting at 20:00 on election day.
Election boards will begin the preliminary count of votes cast on election day as soon as the polling stations close at 20:00.
The preliminary election results will be available during the evening of the election day and the following night.
On election day, the progress of the preliminary vote count can be followed online.
The names of the elected local councillors and the number of votes received by them will be published on the elections website once the preliminary vote count has been completed.
Moreover, the number and percentage of votes received by each political party in each municipality and electoral district and in the entire country will be published.
Once the check count has been completed, the central municipal election boards will confirm the final election results in each municipality at their meetings starting on Wednesday 16 June at 18:00 at the latest.
The confirmed results will be published on the elections website on 16 June 2021.
Information about municipal elections is available through many channels and in many languages (Finnish, Swedish, Skolt Sámi, Inari Sámi, North Sámi, and the Finnish and Finland-Swedish Sign Languages, and several most used foreign languages, such as English, Estonian and Russian).