Closure of advance voting for voters abroad; continues until Tuesday in Finland

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So far, voter turnout has been highest in southern Savo and lowest in the new health service county of Vantaa-Kerava.

Ennakkoäänestys alkoi kauppakeskus Stellassa Mikkelissä keskiviikkoaamuna. Image: Juho Liukkonen / Yle

Saturday is the last day for eligible voters outside Finland to vote early for the first-ever county council elections.

In Finland, advance voting continues every day until Tuesday at some 900 polling stations across the country. Election day itself is Sunday, January 23.

By Saturday afternoon, 13.4% of eligible voters had voted in the regional elections.

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Voters select delegates to the newly formed county councils, who will oversee social, health and relief services from the start of 2023.

Advance voting has been the liveliest so far in southern Savo, which includes the eastern town of Mikkeli. As of 2 p.m. Saturday, 17.2% of those eligible to vote in South Savo had voted, compared to a national average of 13.4%.

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People in the voting booths of the Stella shopping center in Mikkeli. Image: Juho Liukkonen / Yle

Election official Marianne Tavast-Pasonen supervised the vote at the Stella shopping center in Mikkeli. She says a large number of people of all ages voted.

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“People seem interested. I noticed that there were also a lot of young people. There are some who did not vote before and who now consider ‘sote’ [social and healthcare] the questions matter,” she told Yle.

Tavast-Pasonen says coronavirus restrictions, including social distancing and sanitizing facilities, have caused further delays at times, but the general atmosphere has relaxed at Stella.

The slowest pace of voting in Finland so far has occurred in the health service county of Vantaa and Kerava, just north of Helsinki in the Uusimaa region. There, less than 10% of eligible voters had voted by Saturday afternoon.

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A poll released last month suggested voter turnout may struggle to reach 40%.

More than 10,000 candidates are running in the regional elections.

More information on the elections and who is eligible to vote here.

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