A voter in a polling booth in Central Library Oodi in Helsinki on Monday, 22 January 2024. The advance voting period saw a total of 1.88 million people exercise their right to vote, representing a marked increase in turnout from the presidential elections held in 2018. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

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FINNS turned out in record numbers to advance polling stations for the looming presidential elections.

Voter turnout during the week-long period of advanced voting surged to 44.0 per cent as a total of 1.88 people exercised their right to vote. The turnout represents a marked increase, of 7.3 percentage points, from the advance voter turnout in the previous presidential elections in 2018.

The period began on Wednesday, 17 January, and ended on Tuesday, 23 January.

Sami Borg, an election expert at the Foundation for Municipal Development (KAKS), reminded YLE on Tuesday that it is difficult to gauge where the total turnout will settle based on the advance voting period.

“My impression has been for a while that we could reach [a turnout of] 75 per cent in these elections. That’d be a substantial increase from the 70 per cent we saw six years ago. Voter turnout rising would be very rare in Finnish elections. It may be that well make some kind of record this time,” he commented to the public broadcasting company.

Some voters, he added, may have decided to delay casting their vote because of how little separates the leading candidates in opinion polls.

“Some will want to examine the last opinion polls and then think whether they should vote for their primary candidate or swap for the secondary one. But we’ll know a lot more about this on election day,” said Borg.

The election day is on 28 January. If no candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the votes, a second round of voting will be organised on 11 February.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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