Cobalt has represented Latvia's Central Election Commission in proceedings before the Regional Administrative Court in Riga regarding the annulment of extraordinary elections to the Riga City Council.
Cobalt reports that the “extraordinary elections to the Riga City Council took place on August 29. [Subsequently] it was discovered during the elections [that almost] 600 ballots have been placed in envelopes with missing electoral seals in three polling stations. The law does not allow these ballots counted due to technical inadmissibility. On September 14 to 16 the Regional Administrative Court examined the applications filed against the Central Election Commission by four political parties and their associations, in which a number of claims were made: a request to annul the results of the elections to the Riga City Council in three polling stations, to oblige the CEC to announce re-voting in the three polling stations, to recount votes in all the polling stations in Riga, as well as to announce repeated elections or repeated voting throughout the city of Riga.”
“The court satisfied the applications for the recounting of votes in the three polling stations in Riga, where the court identified accidental human errors in the work carried out by the polling station commission, as a result of which the ballot envelopes did not bear the seal,” according to Cobalt. “The Regional Administrative Court carried out an examination of the evidence and concluded that the violations had not resulted from illicit interference. The court derogated from the requirement laid down in the Elections Law to declare the unsealed envelopes removed from the ballot box null and void. The court instructed to have them opened and add the votes to the total number of votes cast, so to ensure the fundamental rights of citizens to participate in elections and express a free will of the voters as enshrined in the [Constitution]. The court ruled that the unsealed envelopes shall be taken into account when recounting the votes in the three polling stations.”
Other applications to the court were rejected, Cobalt reports, and the court found that “there were no grounds for recounting votes in other polling stations, all the more so for announcing repeated extraordinary elections to the Riga City Council, owing to the fact that a fair and appropriate settlement may be achieved with the first judgment of the Regional Court on the recounting of votes."
Following the court’s instructions, the Central Election Commission recounted the votes. The recounts did not affect the outcome of the elections. Cobalt adds that the Central Election Commission's recount decision cannot be appealed and that “the extraordinary elections to the Riga City Council have been finalized, and the newly elected City Council may convene for legislative sessions.”
Cobalt’s team included Managing Partner Lauris Liepa and Associate Inese Greke.