Elections are coming. Here's how to vote

Anyone with permanent residence is eligible to vote. Polling stations closing earlier than usual.

(Source: Ján Krošlák, SME)

Slovakia is preparing for its first joint municipal and regional elections, taking place this Saturday, October 29.

Both Slovak citizens and foreigners with permanent residence above the legal age of 18 are eligible to vote. The polling stations open at 7:00 and close at 20:00, earlier than usual in the past.

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Because the regional and municipal elections are held on the same day, voters will receive four lists and two – one white, one blue - envelopes in the voting room. The blue envelopes are for regional elections, white for municipal elections.

The joint municipal and regional elections give a say to foreigners living in Slovakia, as well.

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There are currently about 82,000 foreigners with permanent residence in Slovakia. Not much information on candidates is provided in English, though. However, the information should be provided on the websites of towns and villages, information boards or sent to mailboxes.

How many people to vote for

It is important to know how many candidates can one vote for. Cities, town districts and villages are not evenly divided into constituencies according to the number of inhabitants, and municipalities are divided into electoral boroughs. Due to the differences in numbers of city borough inhabitants, it is not possible to elect the same number of councilors in each borough.

Voters will receive two ballot papers: one with candidates for the regional governor’s post and the other with candidates for the regional parliament.

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A voter picks one candidate for governor. The number of regional councillors that can be elected in a certain district will be stated on the ballot.

Voters will then place both ballots in one blue envelope, which they will receive from the committee, and cast it into the ballot box. The full list of candidates can be found on the official website of Interior Ministry.

Identifying yourself and voting sites

Voting is only possible at the place of voters’ permanent residence. Coming to the ballots, voters will be asked to show their IDs.

No prior registering is needed since the town or village where voters have their permanent residence is responsible for registering them on the permanent list of voters. If foreigners find that they are not on the list when they turn up to vote, the district electoral committee will write their name down after identifying them with their Foreigner Resident Card.

Usual turnout scenario and consequences

Municipal and regional elections usually have a low turnout since negative emotions towards politics play a great role. The elections also take place around the holidays dedicated to remembering and mourning families’ loved ones who have passed away. People usually travel to visit family graves, attend sermons and light candles, so they might not be present in their place of permanent residence at the time of elections.

However, it is still important to come to the polling stations. The vote affects local services, levels of healthcare, culture, education – the very image of towns and villages.

Self-governing regions (VÚCs) have decision-making powers in education, social services, health care, master plans, and public transport, and oversee the maintenance of lower category roads, while coordinating inter-regional and cross-border cooperation and tourism. They make decisions pertaining to the operation of museums, galleries, libraries and pharmacies, just to name a few of the crucial sectors.

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