VILNIUS – Lithuanians are on Sunday voting in parliamentary elections despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a number of precautions taken to contain the spread of the virus.
In particular, all voters are required to wear face masks and the majority of them fill in their ballot papers with their own pens. Organizers regulate the flows of voters and warn about longer than usual queues that may line up outside certain polling stations due to the social distancing requirement.
First voters at the Misko polling station in the center of Kaunas showed up right before the opening of polls at 7 a.m.
“I came to vote early so as to avoid a crowd of people. I urged all my family members to go together, tried to wake them up but our young ones are sleeping,” Marija Daine, 72, who is in charge of public cultural establishments, told BNS.
Voters enter the polling station through one door and have to exit through another in a bid to reduce the risk of contact. Members of the constituency electoral commission warn people to come by one and avoid gathering in groups.
Commission members wear facemasks and gloves, disinfect surfaces once in an hour and ventilate the premises on a more frequent basis.
“It is more inconvenient to people as they have to make a huge circle but such are the requirements,” Ginvile Pilenaite, chair of the constituency electoral commission, told BNS.
This time, voters would have to queue longer than usual given that registration would take longer due to the social distancing requirement, she explained.
“I have been working for many years but this time the experience is different: we have premises and have to make adjustments to comply with the requirements and to make them safe for everyone, including staff and voters,” she added.
Approximately 30 people came to vote at the Vytenio polling station in Vilnius within the first half an hour after the opening of polls despite rain.
“It is always the same – people who want to avoid queues rush in early in the morning,” Julija Ceglyte, chair of the constituency electoral commission, told BNS.
The majority of voters had their own pens and wore facemasks. However, organizers are ready to offer disposable masks to those who do not have any means of protection to cover their nose and mouth.
The polls will continue until 8 p.m. Voter flows traditionally peak after the Sunday Mass and in the evening, before the closure of polling stations.