The Saeima Election Law
25 May 1995
(as amended by the March 26, 1998 Law of the Saeima)
Source: Vestnesis, 6 June1995, nr.86
For purposes of interpretation, the original Latvian text is to be regarded as official.
Chapter I: GENERAL PROVISIONS
Citizens of Latvia who have reached the age of 18 by the election day have the right to vote unless any of the restrictions set in Article 2 of this Law apply.
The following persons shall not be entitled to vote:
The voting rights of a person shall not be limited to any specific constituency.
Any citizen of Latvia who has reached the age of 21 on the day before the elections can be elected to the Saeima unless any of the restrictions set in Article 5 of this Law apply.
Persons are not to be included in the candidate lists and are not eligible to the Saeima if they:
(1) If the President of State, state controller, a member of the National Board of Control or Audit Department, judge, prosecutor or military person has been nominated as a candidate for the elections, he/she shall resign from office (service) and notify the Central Election Commission about it within one month after the list of candidates for the Saeima elections (further called list of candidates) has been registered.
(2) A member of a city, district or rural municipal council can be nominated as a candidate for the Saeima elections but he/she shall lose the mandate in the respective council upon being elected to the Saeima.
(1) Latvia shall be divided into five constituencies for the Saeima elections:
(2) The Riga constituency includes the city of Riga; the Vidzeme constituency includes the Aluksne, Cesis and Gulbene districts, Jurmala city, the Limba«i, Madona and Ogre districts, the Riga district (except Riga city), the Valka and Valmiera districts; the Latgale constituency includes the Balvi district, the Daugavpils district and city, the Kraslava, Ludza and Preili districts, the Rezekne district and Rezekne city; the Kurzeme constituency includes the Kuldiga district, the Liepaja district and city, the Saldus and Talsi districts, the Ventspils district and city; the Zemgale constituency includes the Aizkraukle, Bauska, Dobele and Jekabpils districts, the Jelgava district and city and the Tukums district.
(1) The Central Election Commission shall determine the number of seats in the Saeima in proportion to the number of electors in a constituency which is stated four months before the first election day by the Citizenship and Immigration Department according to the Register of Residents. If the Saeima election takes place according to Article 48 of the Constitution (Satversme), the numbers of seats are decided on the day when the elections are announced. Electors residing in foreign countries are included in the number of electors of the Riga constituency.
(2) The number of seats in the Saeima are calculated in the following way:
(3) The number of seats in each of the constituencies is to be published in the "Latvijas Vestnesis" newspaper no later than one hundred days before the first election day; if the Saeima elections take place according to Article 48 of the Constitution (Satversme), then the announcement should be issued no later than fifty days before the first election day.
Chapter II: SUBMISSION OF LISTS OF CANDIDATES
(1) A list of candidates may be submitted:
(2) Lists of candidates should be submitted to the Central Election Commission by a person authorized by the decision-making institution of the relevant political organization (party) or the association of political organizations (parties). If a joint list of candidates is made by two or more political organizations (parties), such a list shall be submitted by the person authorized by the decision-making institutions of all the relevant political organizations (parties).
(3) Lists of candidates shall be accepted starting from the eightieth day before the first election day, but the sixtieth day before the first election day is the last date to accept lists of candidates.
(4) If the Saeima elections are held according to Article 48 of the Constitution (Satversme), lists of candidates shall be accepted from the fiftieth day to the thirtieth day before the first election day.
(1) The data to be included in the list of candidates shall be: full name of the candidates, identity number, year of birth, foreign citizenship (denizenship), if any; place of residence (district or city), education, place of employment and position.
(2) The number of candidates in the list should not exceed the number of seats allotted for the constituency.
(3) The same candidate may only be included in one and the same list distributed in one or several constituencies. If any of the candidates should be included in more than one list, his/her name shall be deleted from all the lists.
(4) The name of the list of candidates should coincide with:
(5) The lists of candidates should be clearly legible without deletions or corrections. They are signed by the person authorized by the decision-making institution of the relevant political organization (party) or the association of political organizations (parties). If two or more political organizations (parties) submit the list of candidates, it is signed by the persons authorized by the decision-making institutions of the relevant political organizations (parties).
The following documents shall be attached to the list of candidates:
(1) The Central Election Commission shall only register the lists of candidates if the persons submitting these lists have made a security deposit of 1000 lats in the Central Election Commission fund.
(2) The depositor shall be issued a bank receipt carrying the name of the depositor, the date and the name of the candidate list for which the deposit was made. The bank receipt shall be submitted to the Central Election Commission.
(3) The security paid shall be a guarantee that the same list of candidates may be distributed in all constituencies; the deposit shall be returned to the depositor if at least one candidate from this list has been elected in at least one constituency.
(4) If no candidate has been elected from the list, the security paid shall be transferred to the state revenue by the Central Election Commission.
(1) Lists of candidates complying with the provisions of this Law are registered by the Central Election Commission.
(2) The lists of candidates that have been registered may not be revoked, and amendments may only be made by the Central Election Commission in any of the following ways:
a) the candidate is not a legitimate citizen of Latvia (Articles 4 and 5);
b) the candidate has not resigned from his/her office (service) as set by Article 6, item 1 of this Law;
c) the same person has been nominated for more than one list of candidates (Article 10, item 3);
d) the candidate has died;
(3) In the cases referred to in subparagraphs a and d, paragraph 1 of this article the candidate's name shall be deleted on the basis of a certificate issued by the relevant institution or a court judgment.
The following institutions may certify the relevant information:
1) the Citizenship and Immigration Board – that the candidate is not a citizen of Latvia;
2) the Information Centre of the Ministry of the Interior – that the candidate is serving his/her sentence in a penitentiary;
3) the Information Centre of the Ministry of the Interior – that the candidate has been convicted for a deliberately committed crime recognized as a crime in Latvia at the time when this Law came into force and the criminal record has not been expunged or remitted;
4) the Information Centre of the Ministry of the Interior – that the candidate has committed a criminal offence in an irresponsible state or has become mentally ill after committing a crime and is incapable of taking a conscious action or controlling it;
5) the relevant court – that the candidate belongs to of has belonged to the salaried staff of the USSR, the Latvian SSR or a foreign state security, intelligence or counterintelligence services;
6) the relevant court – that after January 13, 1991 the candidate has been active in the CPSU (the CP of Latvia), the Working People’s International Front of the Latvian SSR, the United Board of Working Bodies, the Organization of War and Labour Veterans, the All-Latvia Salvation Committee or its regional committees;
7) the State Language Centre – that the candidate has not mastered the state language to the highest (third) proficiency level;
8) the Civil Rights Registry Office – that the candidate is dead.
(4) The institutions referred to in paragraph (3) of this Article within five days must present this information in writing and free of charge to the Central Election Commission if so requested by the said Commission.
(1) The Central Election Commission assigns numbers to the lists of candidates by first choosing the numbers by lot for those lists of candidates which have been registered in all five constituencies, then for those who have been registered in four constituencies, and so on. Choosing by lot is made in each of the above mentioned groups in the sequence they were registered. The same list of candidates will have the same number in all constituencies.
(2) The Central Election Commission shall ensure the printing of the lists of candidates on separate forms ballot papers and their transfer to district (city) electoral commissions and to the polling stations established in foreign countries.
(3) The ballot paper shall contain the following data:
(4) In the ballot paper there is a blank space across from each name of the candidate for the electors mark to be made.
The Central Election Commission shall ensure that not later than twenty days, or, of the Saeima elections are held as provided by article 48 of the Satversme, not later than tend days before the first election day, the "Latvijas Vestnesis" publish the following information;
1) pre-election programs
2) all the lists of candidates (including each candidates full name, year of birth, foreign citizenship (denizenship), if any, place of residence (district or city), education, full-time employment and position);
3) data concerning each candidate referred to in Article 11, item 4, sub-items "a" and "c"-"i" of this Law;
4) full names of the candidates about whom data are kept at the Centre for Eliminating Consequences of the Totalitarian Regime stating that at its disposal or at the State Archives or other national depositories there are documents certifying the fact that these candidates could have collaborated with the USSR, Latvian SSR or foreign state security services, intelligence or counterintelligence services on contract basis as agents, residents, or they have offered their apartments for clandestine activities.
Chapter III: ELECTION PROCEDURE
(1) Not later than ten days before the first election day each polling station shall:
1) display pre-election programs (Article 11, item 2) and announcements showing all the lists of candidates nominated for the constituency (with each candidate as full name, year of birth, foreign citizenship (denizenship), if any, place of residence (district or city), education, full-time employment and position);
2) make available to the public:
a) data concerning each candidate referred to in Article 11, item 4, sub-items 1a№ and 1c№-№i№ of this Law;
b) data referred to in Article 15, item 4 of this Law.
(2) On or before the fifteenth day before the first election day the district (city) electoral commission shall announce the address, the opening and the closing time of the polling stations.
Elections shall be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time on the first Sunday of October and the Saturday before it. If the Saeima elections are to be held in another time of year upon the dissolution of the Saeima, the election days shall be determined by the Central Election Commission.
Before the elections begin, the chairperson or the secretary of the electoral commission together with the commission and authorized observers from political organizations (parties), as well as associations of such organizations (parties) and their territorial structures possessing authority of legal persons (further authorized observers) shall check that the ballot boxes where ballots will be cast, are empty. After that, the ballot boxes shall be sealed.
During the election procedure the maintenance of order within the polling station shall be the responsibility of the chairperson of the electoral commission. It is his/her responsibility to see that there is no infringement of franchise, public disturbance or agitation in the polling station and within 50 meters from its entrance.
(1) The passport of a Latvian citizen shall be the identity document of an elector.
(2) At the entrance, one member of the electoral commission shall check that the arriving citizens are electors without a stamp on the current Saeima elections in their passports.
Unless the exceptions described in Article 25 of this Law apply, an elector may only cast a vote in person.
(1) Voting is by secret ballot.
(2) Inside the polling station a member of the electoral commission of the polling station (further polling commission) writes the full name and identification number of any elector in the list of voters and makes a note in the voters' passport indicating that he/she has participated in the current Saeima elections. The voter signs the list of voters.
(3) Each voter is issued the ballot papers containing all the lists of candidates nominated for the constituency, and a special envelope bearing the stamp of the polling commission. The elector is to insert into the envelope the ballot paper containing the list of candidates he/she has chosen to vote for. It is prohibited to issue any ballot papers separately.
(4) Agitation for or against any candidates or lists of candidates by members of election commission is prohibited.
(1) A separate room or compartment should be arranged inside the polling station for the elector to insert one ballot paper into the envelope and to seal it in privacy.
(2) The elector may choose to put a "+" mark across from the name of any candidates, to cross out a candidates first or last name or to leave the ballot paper without any marks.
(3) The "+" note against the name of a candidate indicates special support given to the candidate by this elector. If the elector does not support some of the candidates included in the ballot paper, he/she may cross out the first or the last name of this candidate. The elector may insert an unaltered (unmarked) ballot paper into the envelope.
(4) The elector personally hands the sealed envelope to a member of the electoral commission, and the latter inserts the envelope into the sealed ballot box in the presence of the voter.
(5) If the voter has damaged the ballot paper or the envelope, a new envelope or new ballot papers with all the names of the candidates nominated for the constituency shall be issued to the voter. A special entry to this effect shall be made in voter's list.
(1) If any elector is unable to arrive at the polling station for health reasons, a written request may be filed with the polling station commission by this elector or by an authorized person and registered in a special journal; two members of the commission are authorized to organize the voting at the place where the elector is placed, ensuring voting by secret ballot. Specially authorized observers have the right to supervise such voting (Article 18).
(2) Names of the electors qualified for absentee voting as provided in paragraph 1 of this Article, shall be entered in a separate voting register and the sealed ballot envelopes shall be inserted into a separate sealed ballot box.
If a physical handicap prevents an elector from voting, a member of his/her family or another trustworthy person shall make notes in the ballot paper according to word-of-mouth instructions given by the voter. The person making the notes must not be a member of the relevant election commission.
Military servicemen shall be given leave of absence for the time required for voting.
(1) On both election days only those electors who had entered the polling station before 8 p.m. shall be allowed to cast their votes. The polling stations are closed after that.
(2) When the voting has ended on the first day, the ballot boxes shall be sealed by the stamp of the relevant commission thereby preventing any ballot envelopes to be inserted or removed from the ballot boxes until voting starts again on the second day; the members of the commission and authorized observers (Article 18) shall have the right to use their own stamps for sealing the ballot boxes. The ballot boxes should remain within the polling stations under the supervision of the commission, police or national guards.
(3) On the second election day, before the voting has started, the seal on the ballot boxes is checked for damage by the chairperson of the electoral commission in the presence of the electoral commission and the authorized observers (Article 18).
Chapter IV: COUNTING OF VOTES AND PROCESSING OF VOTING RESULTS
Before the ballot boxes are opened, the unused ballot papers and envelopes shall be cancelled according to the procedure prescribed by the Central Election Commission.
When the ballot boxes have been opened, it is the responsibility of the polling commission:
1) to count the envelopes bearing the relevant polling commission seal found in the ballot boxes;
2) to regard the envelopes unsealed by the relevant polling commission invalid without opening them; to count the invalid envelopes, package them and make a note about it in the minutes of the preliminary counting of votes;
3) to open the counted valid envelopes, to remove the ballot papers and check if the envelope contains only one ballot paper;
4) to sort the ballot papers according to the numbers assigned to the lists of candidates, making a distinction between valid and invalid votes and counting the votes cast for each list of candidates.
(1) The votes are regarded invalid, if;
(2) If the content of the ballot papers inserted into the envelope is the same, only one ballot paper is regarded as a valid vote.
Differences of opinion concerning the validity of ballot papers shall be resolved by majority vote. In case of equal vote the chairperson of the electoral commission shall have the deciding vote.
(1) The preliminary minutes of vote counting at the polling station should include data about the number of the envelopes received from the district (city) electoral commission, the number of unused envelopes, the number of envelopes issued by the polling commission, the number of envelopes found in the ballot boxes, the number of ballot papers cast, the number of invalid ballot papers and the data required by Article 31.
(2) The invalid ballot papers are to be numbered and an explanation of their invalidity included in the minutes.
(1) After the completion of the initial counting of voices the ballot box shall be filled with the following documents:
1) all the cast and valid ballot papers which have been sorted and packaged according to the numbers assigned to the lists of candidates;
2) all the invalid ballot papers;
3) one copy of the initial counting minutes;
4) the list of voters.
(2) The ballot box shall be sealed by the stamp of the polling station. The authorized observers present (Article 18) also shall have the right to seal the ballot box by using their own stamps; in this case a reference to this effect is to be made in the election operations minutes.
(3) The ballot box is to remain at the polling station under the supervision of the police or national guards in the presence of at least one member of the relevant polling commission.
(4) The second copy of the minutes of the initial counting of votes is to be conveyed to the district (city) electoral commissions accompanied by a note of date and time of conveyance and the name of the carrier of the minutes. The second copy of the minutes of the initial counting of votes from the polling stations established in foreign countries shall be conveyed to the Central Election Commission in accordance with the procedure prescribed by this Commission.
(1) On the day following the second election day at an open meeting of the polling commission and according to the procedure prescribed by the Central Election Commission the polling commission shall:
1) re-count the valid and the invalid ballot papers. The valid ballot papers shall be classified according to the numbers assigned to the lists of candidates;
2) re-count the ballot papers cast per list of candidates;
3) divide the ballots cast per list of candidates into two groups: the altered and the unaltered ballot papers. The altered ballot papers are those bearing the 1+№ mark or a crossed-out first or last name of a candidate. All the other ballot papers shall be regarded as unaltered;
(2) all the votes cast for the same candidate are summarized according to the following features:
a) a "+" sign against the name of the candidate;
b) the first or last name of the candidate has been crossed out.
(3) The final count of votes shall be recorded by the polling commission in special minutes which shall be written in two copies and shall include the data required by Articles 31 and 34 of this Law and the data mentioned in the first part of this Article.
(4) At the polling stations which accept votes by mail the final counting of votes may immediately follow the initial counting of votes.
(1) When the votes have been counted and the final count of votes has been recorded in the minutes, all the valid and invalid ballot papers, the unused and invalid envelopes, the unused ballot papers and one copy of the minutes containing the final count of votes made by the polling commission should be packaged and sealed. The authorized observers present (Article 18) shall also have the right to seal the package by using their own stamps, and a reference should be made thereof in the minutes of election operations. After that the polling commission shall convey all the election papers to the district (city) electoral commission, whereas the polling commissions established in foreign countries shall send them to the Central Election Commission in observance of the procedure set by the said Commission. A note should be attached to the election papers stating the date and time of conveyance and the name of the carrier.
(2) District (city) electoral commissions shall receive all the votes reported by every polling station in their respective area and summarize them in the minutes of the sub-final counts of votes; the election material and the minutes of the final count of the votes made by the district (city) electoral commissions shall be conveyed to the Central Election Commission in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the said Commission.
(1) The candidates elected in each constituency shall be determined by the Central Election Commission. The list of candidates that have gained less than five per cent of the total number of votes in the whole of Latvia regardless of the number of constituencies where their lists of candidates have been distributed shall be excluded from the distribution of seats. The total number of votes (total number of voters having taken part in the elections) shall be the number of valid ballot envelopes.
(2) The procedure to be applied in distributing the seats in the Saeima among the winning lists of candidates shall be the following:
1) the valid ballot papers cast for each list of candidates in each constituency shall be counted;
2) the number of ballot papers cast for each list of candidates shall be divided by 1, 3, 5, 7 and so forth, until the number of divisions is equal to the number of candidates nominated in each list;
3) all the division results concerning all the lists of candidates shall be numbered in a general diminishing sequence for each constituency;
4) the seats in a constituency shall be assigned to the lists of candidates that correspond to the highest division results. If a division result, having a sequence number which coincides with the number of seats assigned to the constituency, is equal to one or several consequent division results, the list of candidates that has gained the largest number of votes in the whole of Latvia, wins one more seat. If such lists of candidates have been registered only in one constituency, the seat is won by the list of candidates which was registered first.
The candidates nominated in each list shall be arranged in the sequence of votes gained. The deputy shall gain the number of votes that have been cast for the list where his/her name has been included minus the number of ballot papers where the first or last name of this candidate has been crossed out plus the number of all the ballot papers where the voters have made a "+" mark across from the candidates name. If any two or more candidates of the same list have gained an equal number of votes, the names of these candidates should be arranged in the sequence indicated by the person who has submitted the list. The candidates who have gained the largest number of votes, shall be the winning candidates whereas the remaining candidates names are arranged in the sequence determined by the number of their respective votes.
If the same candidate, according to Article 38 of this Law, has won seats in more than one constituency, the candidate shall be regarded as elected in the constituency where he has gained the largest number of votes whereas in other constituencies the next largest number of votes shall decide who has won a seat.
If the Saeima deputy has been elected and has died, given up his mandate, declined or lost it for some other reason, he shall be replaced by a next candidate from the same list of candidates.
If for any reason referred to in Article 41 of this Law a list should be short of nominations, Article 38 of this Law shall set the procedure of selecting a candidate from another list.
Chapter V: PARTICIPATION OF CITIZENS OF LATVIA IN THE SAEIMA ELECTIONS IF THEY RESIDE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY AT THE TIME OF THE ELECTIONS
Electors casting their votes in polling stations that have been established in foreign countries shall receive the ballot papers containing the list of candidates nominated for the Riga City constituency, and their votes will be added to the other votes cast in the Riga City constituency.
(1) An elector wishing to vote by mail should mail an appropriate written petition adding his/her full name, identity number and address, to the polling commission two weeks before the first election day or earlier (date of mailing). The citizen passport of Latvia is to be attached.
(2) Having received a similar petition, the polling commission shall:
1) check if the petition was sent before the deadline set in the first part of this Article;
2) check if the petitioner is an elector who has not yet received electoral documents for absentee (mail) voting;
3) enter the name of the elector in a special voting-by-mail register;
4) make a note in the passport of the elector about current voting for the Saeima;
5) send back the passport to the indicated address, all the ballot papers containing all the lists of candidates nominated for the Riga City constituency, a ballot envelope bearing the stamp of the respective polling station and information about the voting procedure.
(1) Having received election papers for voting by mail, the elector shall select a ballot paper containing the list of candidates he/she intends to vote for; notes may be made in the ballot paper, if so wished, in observance of Article 23 of this Law; the ballot paper is placed in the ballot envelope and the envelope sealed.
(1) The polling commission only shall open those envelopes which both carry a note that a ballot envelope has been enclosed and which have been received by the time the counting of votes has started in the respective polling station.
The polling commission shall not open the envelopes bearing a note that a ballot envelope has been enclosed but received after the time the counting of votes has started in the respective polling station. These envelopes shall be numbered and a record shall be made in the minutes about the date of receipt of each such envelope.
(1) If in due time a polling commission receives a mailed envelope addressed to the respective polling station carrying a note that a ballot envelope has been enclosed, the commission shall:
1) check if the envelope has been mailed on any of the election days;
2) unseal the mail envelope to find the voters statement and the ballot envelope;
3) check if the ballot envelope carries the stamp of the respective polling commission;
4) check if the electors name has been entered in the vote-by-mail register and if the receipt of the ballot envelope from this elector has not been already recorded in the register;
5) make a note in the vote-by-mail register and insert the valid ballot paper into the ballot box.
(2) A ballot envelope shall be regarded as invalid if it:
(3) The invalid ballot envelopes shall not be opened and shall not be inserted into the ballot box. They shall be numbered and an entry about each of them shall be made in the minutes explaining the reason why they are regarded as invalid. The invalid ballot envelopes, the enclosed statements and the mail envelopes shall be stored in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the Central Election Commission.
Chapter VI: FINAL PROVISIONS
Complete election reports and the count of the votes gained by each candidate in each list of candidates at every polling station shall be summarized within 6 months, issued in a separate publication and made freely accessible in state libraries.
When ten days have passed after the convening of the newly-elected Saiema all the ballot papers are to be destroyed, and after the publication of election results pursuant to the procedure prescribed in Article 49 of the Law all the minutes of the elections commissions shall be deposited with the State Archives.
The person who has submitted the list of candidates, as well as the nominated candidates have the right of appeal against the decision made by the electoral commission; this appeal may be submitted within seven days after such a decision has been taken and an action be brought in the location where the respective electoral commission functioned.
Persons found guilty of hindering citizens from voting or canvassing through violence, deception, threat, bribery or any other illegitimate means, or who have intentionally given false personal information in the documents required by Article 11 of this Law, or otherwise have counterfeited election documents, or have deliberately miscounted the votes, trespassed the rule of voting confidence, or otherwise violated this Law, shall be made liable as provided by the Law.
Costs arising from the preparation and operations of the elections shall be covered by the state budget.
1. The electors who have not been granted the citizens passports of Latvia until the election day shall produce the former USSR passports at the polling station bearing a note made by the Citizenship and Immigration Department thereby certifying the citizenship of Latvia.
2. Electors residing in foreign countries who have not been granted the citizens passport of Latvia shall produce at the polling station or mail a registration card bearing the electors identity number issued by the Citizenship and Immigration Department.
This Law comes into force on the day following its promulgation.
This Law has been adopted by the Saeima on May 25, 1995.
The President of State
Riga, June 6, 1995