31.3.2023 6:54:00

On 23 March, referendaries from the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman conducted unannounced inspections of general advance polling stations in five municipalities in Southwest Finland. For the first time, inspections were also conducted at three special advance voting facilities at social welfare institutions in Uusimaa on 24 March. A specialist from the Human Rights Centre also participated in one of the inspections. The aim of the inspections was to investigate how the secrecy of the ballot was secured, the voting arrangements and the accessibility of the polling stations. 

Shortcomings were observed in accessibility. It was not possible to get into some of the general polling stations independently with a wheelchair. The arrangements at general advance polling stations were mainly in order. 

The observations concerning the election bus were positive, but an election bus was considered problematic as a general advance polling station from the point of view of accessibility.

According to the observations, keeping the secrecy of the ballot at special advance voting facilities may have been at risk because of the inappropriate location of one special advance voting facility. The voting facility could be seen from the indoor space behind the facility as well as from outside through a window.

The feedback received from voters and electoral commissions on voting organised at special advance voting facilities was very positive.  

Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin considered it important that voting organised at special advance voting facilities increases especially the voting activity of persons with disabilities and older people, who cannot get to general polling stations.

Inspections of general advance polling stations were conducted in Raisio, Turku, Kaarina, Paimio and Salo. Inspections of special advance voting facilities were conducted in Hyvinkää, Nurmijärvi and Espoo.

The Deputy-Ombudsman decided to carry out an own-initiative investigation on voting arrangements in Turku and Kaarina because of observations concerning accessibility and on the use of the election bus in the City of Salo. The Deputy-Ombudsman also investigates the varying practices at special advance voting facilities especially with regard to selecting the locations of the polling stations, their advance arrangements and cooperation with the institutions in which the voting is organised. In addition, the Deputy-Ombudsman also decided to investigate the procedure concerning the voter's situation-specific capacity to vote.

One of the special tasks of the Ombudsman is to promote, protect and monitor the realisation of disabled persons’ rights. The task is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ratified by Finland. Inspections therefore seek to draw special attention to accessibility and the possibilities for participation and political rights of persons with disabilities.

Inspection records 1545/2023 and 1546/2023 1have been published in Finnish on the website at 

For more information, please contact Senior Legal Adviser Juha-Pekka Konttinen, tel. +358 (0)9 432 3338 or Päivi Lahtinen, tel. +358 (0)9 432 3377.