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2022 Swedish election For Members

EXPLAINED: How does early voting work in Sweden?

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: How does early voting work in Sweden?
People cast early votes at a polling station in central Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Early voting began in Sweden on August 24th, with Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch and Green leader Märta Stenevi both casting their ballots the day polls opened. But how does the system work in Sweden and can you change your mind?

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If you live in Sweden, you should have received your voting card (röstkort) in the post, with information about the location and opening time of your polling station on September 11th, the day of the election.

But you can also cast your vote in advance, something a growing number of Swedish residents are choosing to do so. In the 2018 election, 37 percent of those eligible to vote voted in advance, up from 23 percent in 2002. Of those who actually voted, 47 percent voted in advance, up from 39 percent in 2010. 

Who can vote in advance? 

Anyone who is eligible to vote in national, regional or municipal elections can vote in advance. If you have received your voting card, it will include information on which elections you are allowed to vote in here. You can also find out about the requirements to be eligible for each election in this article). 

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Where can I vote in advance? 

On your voting card, it states which vallokal or polling station you are registered at -- usually a school or other public place. But these stations only open on election day.

To vote in advance you need to go to one of the places each municipality designates for advance voting. 

You can find a list of all the places where you can cast your vote early here. Here's a map showing early voting polling stations in Stockholm, here's a map for Gothenburg, and here's a map for Malmö.

What do I need to bring to vote in advance? 

All you need is your voting card and a piece of ID, either an identity card, a passport, or a driving license. Don't worry if you've lost your voting card, though: many stations offering advance voting will print out a replacement röstkort, if you happen to be passing by and decide to vote on impulse. 

The green party's spokesperson Märta Stenevi votes early in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

What happens when I go to the polling station? 

The early voting stations are staffed by volunteers who will direct you to the voting booth, and, if necessary, show you how to vote. Depending on whether you can vote in parliamentary elections, or just municipal and regional ones, you will either receive three or two envelopes. 

The voting booth has a curtain that can be closed so no one can see which party you choose. Inside, there are rows of voting slips or valsedlar for each of the parties competing. There are separate voting slips for the parliamentary, regional, and municipal elections. Some slips have the names of individual candidates on them, so you can give a personal vote, and some have no names, so you just vote for the party. 

You place the slip for the party you want to vote for in each of the three elections in an envelope (you can vote for different parties in at the national, regional, and municipal level), if you want to, you tick the name of the person you want to have your vote, then you seal the envelope and give it to the person at the desk. 

The people at the polling station then write down your voting card number on each envelope for you, and post the voting envelopes (which have a small opening showing the colour of the voting slip) in each of the ballot boxes for the national, regional and municipal election. 

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What's the advantage of voting in advance? 

It's much less crowded, and you normally don't have to queue (as sometimes happens on election day). There's also added security. You might get ill on election day and not be able to vote. You might have an extremely busy work day. If you vote in advance, you can vote on the day that is most convenient for you. 

Can I change my mind after I've voted? 

Yes. You can change your mind right up to the point that ballot boxes close on election day. If you decide that you want to vote for a different party, all you need to do is turn up at the polling station where you are registered with your voting card and vote a second time for the party you now want to vote for. 

Your new vote will then be registered as your vote, and the old vote will be cancelled. This is because your voting card has a unique number (which is different from your personal number to keep each vote anonymous), and each unique voting card number can only have one vote connected to it. 

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