A total of 85 polling stations in 41 countries—the greatest number ever—will be open outside the homeland on Feb. 18 for a national referendum to decide if Russian should become an official language alongside Latvian. The Central Election Commission in Rīga announced the list Jan. 20 after the Constitutional Court decided not to interfere in the referendum, although it will take up a case questioning the legitimacy of parts of Latvia’s initiative and referendum law.
The expanded list of polling stations includes two countries—Chile and Venezuela—where Latvian citizens could not vote in September’s parliamentary election, although balloting has taken place there before.
… The Feb. 18 referendum will decide if five paragraphs in Latvia’s constitution should be amended to make Russian an official language. Under current language, Latvian is the only official language. At least half of the eligible voters in the last parliamentary election, about 772,000 people, must vote in favor of the referendum for it to pass.