09 September 2008


With the presidential elections upon us in the USA soon (Nov. 4th), I thought I'd say a little bit about it and some of the differences here in Finland.

First off, I've never voted in the USA. That's because I'm not even registered to vote. for one reason or another, mainly laziness, I just never went and registered myself to vote. At least until now. I did a google search on how to register to vote when you don't live in the USA anymore and I came across the Overseas Vote Foundation. The website was easily set up to walk me through the steps and questions I needed to fill out for my home state and then I could print out the application, sign it and send it off. So, I just sent off my voter's registration form today in the mail. I should be registered and get my absentee ballot to vote in the upcoming elections.

As in the USA, the age limit for voting in national and local elections is 18 years or older.
Although, as a foreign national (not a citizen, but residing here a long time) I am allowed to vote only in local government elections, but not national elections (such as for the president). I need to become a citizen first.
(I've also never voted in any munincipal elections in Finland...maybe I should experience it some day.)

The right to vote in Finland is universal and equal.
Here in Finland, people are automatically "signed up" to vote. A person does not need to do anything special in order to vote. In fact, a notification card will be sent to each person a few weeks before an election letting them know where the nearest voting station is.

Presidential elections are held once every 6 years in Finland. We just had our last election in 2006 where Tarja Halonen (Finland's first female president) was re-elected. A person may serve as president for a maximum of two consecutive terms, same as in the USA. The president is voted for directly, each vote counts towards the candidate themselves and not any sort of electoral vote.
Election day is the third Sunday of January.

Municipal elections take place every 4 years and are at a different time of the year than presidential elections. The next municipal elections shall be held on 26 October 2008.

Finland has a multi-party system, with three strong parties, in which no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments. (Wikipedia)

I know there is much more to this topic, but I just wanted to touch on a few things. For a better scope of information, check out The Minestry of Justice Finland - Vaalit website.