Advance polls opened in Finland today as people began casting votes for the municipal elections. Special attention is being paid to health and safety guidelines this year, with voters requested to practice social distancing and wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Yle reports that for the first time, voters are able to cast ballots from the safety of their own car, with drive-in stations set up across the country. People travelling by foot or cycle can also vote at outdoor polls.
Helsingin Sanomat has revealed that a large number of municipal election candidates have a criminal record, with parties deliberately choosing not to disclose this information to the public.
A total of 59 candidates standing for elections in the Helsinki metropolitan area have been convicted of crimes from 2016 to 2021.
Finland introduces drive-in voting for advance polls
Advance voting for municipal elections includes drive-in and outdoor options this year, as a means of enhancing safety and ensuring COVID-19 guidelines are followed.
The drive-in poll booths are modelled on drive-in COVID-19 testing stations. Voters are able to drive up to the area, where they are given the ballot paper after providing the required credentials.
They then cast their ballot in the privacy of their car and place it in a sealed envelope, which will be transferred to the constituency electoral committees. Voters are urged to bring their own pens and face masks and are required to maintain social distancing at all times.
Several municipal candidates in the capital city region have criminal records
According to a report by Helsingin Sanomat, 59 candidates running for the municipal elections have been convicted of a total of 97 crimes between 2016 and 2021. Voters are currently unable to access information related to candidates’ criminal backgrounds in Finland.
The Finns Party reportedly has the most number of candidates with criminal convictions, followed by the Swedish People’s Party of Finland. The highest number of convictions were for drunk driving, aggravated drunk driving, assault and drug offences.