Press releases

Shortcomings in accessibility and protecting the secrecy of the ballot

In surprise inspections carried out by the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, a number of shortcomings related to accessibility and the secrecy of ballot were discovered at advance polling stations in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa.

Inspections ordered by Parliamentary Ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen targeted seven advance polling stations on Tuesday 14 April. The inspections were conducted by two public servants from the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, one of whom was using a wheelchair.
The Parliamentary elections were held on the 19th April, and the advance polling took place from March 8. to April 14.

Shortcomings were found

Shortcomings were found at the polling stations of all three cities. For example, there was no wheelchair access to the post office in Rauhankatu which served as an advance polling station in Kruununhaka, Helsinki.

In Pähkinärinne library in Vantaa, wheelchair users' secrecy of ballot was at risk. A separate table had been reserved for voters in wheelchairs, however with no arrangements to protect their privacy.

In Matinkylä, Espoo, no separate voting booth had been reserved for wheelchair users in the joint services point located in Iso Omena shopping centre. According to an election official, wheelchair users could cast their vote on the corner of the official's desk.

Prompted by the inspection results, the Parliamentary Ombudsman will examine the voting arrangements in all three cities on his own initiative.

Implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities has been selected by the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman as its theme for 2015. Inspections thus seek to draw attention to accessibility and the possibilities for participation of persons with disabilities.

Instructions provided by the Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice issues instructions on conducting elections to central municipal election boards pursuant to the Election Act. The instructions for this year's parliamentary elections explain in detail how accessibility should be ensured in the voting arrangements.

Inspection minutes, Record no 1802/3/2015, have been published in the Ombudsman's decisions database (in Finnish).

Further information is available from Senior Legal Advisor Ulla-Maija Lindström, tel. +358 (0)9 432 3355.