2021 elections: Norwegians abroad encouraged to vote early due to the corona situation

Voting - electionsPhoto: Berit Roald / NTB

From July 1, Norwegians abroad are able to vote in parliamentary elections. But fewer postal deliveries could mean that the votes must be sent earlier than before – if they are to count.

Corona restrictions and fewer mail flights can make advance voting from abroad more complicated than before. Several government agencies are now urging people not to wait until the last minute.

“It is an unpredictable situation because the corona restrictions change in step with the infection outbreaks,” Deputy Director Yngve Olsen Hvoslef of the Section for Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told news bureau NTB.

Norwegians abroad can vote at Norwegian embassies and consulates or by post. Then they can ask to receive election material from the embassy in the country they live in or vote via a blank sheet, the Electoral Directorate’s website notes.

“In some extreme cases, it may be that it is not allowed to travel into the capital, or, as earlier in the pandemic, that it is not allowed to move outdoors in some places,” Hvoslef said.

Expecting more votes from abroad than before

Strict entry requirements for Norway can also lead to more votes from abroad, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that they expect more voters than usual in countries such as the United Kingdom, Spain, Singapore, and Thailand, where many Norwegians live.

In the parliamentary elections in 2017, a total of 11,811 votes were cast abroad, according to the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. Of these, 763 were by mail.

The Norwegian Electoral Directorate points out that it is extra important to vote early in these cases.

“Vote as early as possible if you live in a place with late postage, to be sure that the vote arrives on time,” communications manager Kristina Brekke Jørgensen at the Norwegian Electoral Directorate told NTB.

However, it is the voters’ own responsibility to ensure that they are aware of the rules and deadlines.

“Voters must take into account how the post office works in the country in which they live. The voting period for foreign voting is very long in Norway, just over two months, and if you want to be sure that the vote arrives on time, you should use the opportunity this long voting period provides,” Jørgensen points out.

Fewer mail planes

Although Norway cooperates with other national postal companies abroad, they do not cooperate on advance votes in the election. The Norwegian Post has abdicated all delivery responsibility before the mail crosses Norwegian borders.

“An important reminder in these corona times is that mail from abroad is often sent by plane to Norway. There are fewer flights, and delays must therefore be expected,” press manager Kenneth Tjønndal Pettersen at the Norwegian Post told NTB.  

In general, the Norwegian Post has no influence or responsibility for mail until it arrives in Norway. All advance votes must have arrived at the municipalities by 5 PM the day after election day, September 13, if they are to count.

A different election in Singapore

Singapore is one of the countries where many Norwegians live. For several months, they have lived under strict national corona restrictions, and although several reliefs take effect on July 12, many will have to resort to a different election.

“Due to local restrictions, it is not as easy to vote this year as in previous elections, but we will be able to receive votes until September 3,” Embassy Councilor Daniel Hirsch from the Embassy in Singapore told NTB.

During previous parliamentary elections, around 240 Norwegians voted from Singapore, but few voted by mail since there are such short distances to the embassy.

“Previously, we also had election day at Sjømannskirken in Singapore, but we will not have the opportunity to do so this year, as it is contrary to local rules introduced due to COVID-19,” Hirsch said.

No obstacles

The Norwegian embassy in Paris, on the other hand, is planning a normal election after France eased most corona restrictions on July 9.

“Advance voting for Norwegians in France will take place in the same way as in previous elections. 

“How many there will be is difficult to say, but the corona pandemic today does not create any obstacles,” Embassy Councilor Liv Kari Ridsbråten at the embassy told NTB.

The deadline for voting in advance from abroad is September 3.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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