Instructions for Foreign Nationals Regarding the Municipal Elections in Iceland 2006

The general election of municipal governments will take place 27 May 2006. All foreign nationals who have had legal residence in Iceland for five years, i.e. from 27 May 2001, and are at least 18 years old 27 May 2006, have the right to vote and run for seats in the municipal government. The Ministry of Social Affairs’; election website provides further instructions on how to run for a seat in the municipal government: www.kosningar.is

Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish nationals have the right to vote after having had legal residence in Iceland for three years prior to election day, i.e. from 27 May 2003.

Is it necessary to apply to become a registered voter?

No, those who have had legal residence in a particular municipality for at least three weeks and who satisfy the requirements of the electoral law to be eligible to vote are automatically on the electoral roll for that municipality and may only vote in that municipality. The electoral roll is based on information from the National Registry at the Icelandic Bureau of Statistics. Thus it’;s not necessary to enrol specifically as a voter, as is required in many other countries. If a voter is not on the electoral roll s/he is not allowed to vote. Those who have moved from one municipality to another should notify the Bureau of Statistics of the change of address no later than 5 May 2006 in order to qualify to vote in the new municipality. Change of Address forms are available at municipal offices, at the Bureau of Statistics or at their website: www.hagstofa.is   

Anyone in doubt can find out whether they are on the electoral roll at the National Registry of the Bureau of Statistics. The electoral roll is also made available to the public at least 10 days before the election day. The electoral roll is usually available for viewing at municipal offices where staff can provide further information.

Where can people vote?

There are two ways. Most people will vote at polling stations 27 May 2006. Municipal Councils for each area advertise well in advance where polling stations will be and when they will be open. It’;s also possible to get information about where to vote at the municipal office. Polling stations are often set up at a local primary school. 

If a voter cannot make it to a polling booth 27 May, for example if s/he is overseas on that day, s/he can cast a vote prior to election day by going to the office of the district magistrate and applying to vote before the election. Votes can also be cast at Icelandic embassies overseas or with consuls. Pre-election voting begins 3 April 2006. 

How are votes cast?

Voting is private and so nobody can see how another person votes. Voters need to bring photo ID to the polling station, such as a driving licence or credit card. Electoral committee staff begin by checking whether the voter is on the electoral roll. Then the voter is given a ballot paper and shown to a voting booth where voting takes place in private. The voter places a cross in front of the letter representing the party list s/he intends to vote for. It’;s important not to make any markings in front of other parties or elsewhere on the ballot sheet as this will invalidate the vote. Then the voter folds the ballot sheet such that the print faces inwards and puts it in the ballot box. Voters are not permitted to show anyone else how the ballot paper is marked. 

In all larger municipalities the names of candidates are included. In some smaller municipalities voters cast their votes by writing the names of their first and second preferences on the ballot paper. Voters may take a list of the names of candidates with them into the voting booth. 

For pre-election voting the voter has to write or stamp the letter of the party in order to cast her/his vote. County magistrates and their staff can provide more detailed instructions for how to vote. 

Voting ends on the evening of Saturday 27 May and most polling stations close at 10pm. Then all votes are counted and the results announced in the media. Blank and invalid ballot papers are also counted and their numbers published.