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Reykjavík City Hall ráðhús
Photo: Golli. Reykjavík City Hall.

Advanced Polls Busy as Municipal Elections Approach

More residents have voted in advanced polls for the upcoming municipal election than in the last election, in 2018, Vísir reports. Amendments to election legislation that took effect this year require all parties to announce their candidacy before advanced polls open. The amendments have had varying effects on the May 14 election, including enabling more foreign residents to vote and making it more difficult to man polling stations.

“So far today we’ve had 421 people vote here at the District Commissioner of Greater Reykjavík and since [advanced polls] opened, 2,800 have voted, and 4,063 across the whole country,” District Commissioner Sigríður Kristinsdóttir stated. There have already been more advanced voters in the capital area this election than in the entire country preceding the last election, in 2018. The advanced polling station for the capital area is open daily in the Holtagarðar shopping centre from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM. On election day, the station will be open between 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM for voters whose registered address is outside the capital area.

Many electoral committees not fully staffed

The new election legislation has made it difficult to staff electoral committees, particularly in smaller municipalities, RÚV reports. A new rule states that committee staff members may not appear as supporters on the election lists of campaigning parties. In many municipalities, this has ruled out a majority of election committee staff, who are scrambling to find replacements. The fact that the election falls on the same day as the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest final has reportedly also made staffing polling stations more difficult.

40% of voters are immigrants

Before this year, most foreign citizens living in Iceland had to wait five years before they could vote in municipal elections. The new legislation has shortened that period to three years, with Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish citizens whose legal residence is in Iceland can vote regardless of how long they have lived in the country.

The amendment has led to some large shifts in voter demographics, for example in Mýrdalshreppur, South Iceland, where 42% of eligible voters are immigrants. The proportion is around one third in Skaftárhreppur and Súðavíkurhreppur, and around one quarter in Reykjanesbær, Southwest Iceland. In an effort to reach voters who may not speak Icelandic, more political parties have created materials in English and Polish and held campaign meetings in English.

The Multicultural Information Centre provides comprehensive information about municipal elections in English on its website.

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