A record number of polling stations abroad—78 in all—will operate July 23 for Latvian citizens to vote in a referendum that could result in dissolution of the parliament, or Saeima.
The Central Election Commission in Rīga announced June 21 that it has approved a Ministry of Foreign Affairs proposal to operate polling stations in 41 countries outside Latvia. In last October’s parliamentary vote, during which the legislators who may now lose their jobs were elected, 64 polling stations operated abroad.
The increase in polling stations is due to not enough time being available for voters abroad to apply for mail ballots, election commission Chairman Arnis Cimdars said in a press release. Applications for mail ballots are due July 1.
The referendum is the result of President Valdis Zatlers calling May 28 for dissolution of the parliament. If the referendum succeeds, the 10th Saeima will be dissolved and new elections will be called. If the referendum fails, according to the Latvian constitution, the president instead must step down.
However, in Zatlers’ case that would be moot, because his four-year term expires July 7. Zatlers failed to win re-election during a June 2 vote in the Saeima.
In the United States, polling stations will be open in the embassy in Washington, D.C., and in Latvia’s representative office in New York, as well as in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, St. Petersburg, San Francisco, Seattle, and the Latvian Center Gaŗezers near Three Rivers, Mich.
Voters in Canada will be able to decide on the referendum in the Latvian embassy in Ottawa as well as in polling stations in Toronto and Montréal.