Your rights become your obligation
Any Estonian citizen who has reached the age of 18 by election day can vote, whether they reside abroad either temporarily or permanently.
It is a privilege that not all citizens of other countries enjoy. (A quick survey of Toronto consulates some 15 years ago showed that approximately 50% of various countries allow it.) The Estonian National Election Commission and Foreign Ministry expend substantial effort to ensure that no Estonian abroad be denied the opportunity to exercise this right.
Elections are the foundation on which a parliamentary democracy should be built. The more active the voting public the more seemingly legitimate and credible the institution of parliament.
Nearly ten percent of Estonian voters have abandoned their electoral rights. From a high of 67.8% of all eligible voters participating in the 1992 parliamentary elections to 58.2% in the 2003 elections. The 2004 European Parliamentary elections attracted only 27% of the electorate. Voters have in fact become dangerously passive.
In recognition of this negative trend The Economist placed Estonia 33rd on a scale of democratic development, a rating denoting countries with certain deficiencies in democracy. It was the blatantly low participation level of voters that assured that evaluation, because according to other important criteria such as civil rights, pluralism, electoral process, government functioning, and so on, Estonia was given high ratings.
A citizen’s right to vote is accompanied by the citizen's obligation to vote. An obligation especially to those living in well established democracies and who place a high value on the meaning of universal suffrage.
The right of Estonians in their homeland to vote in a multi-party system without coercion, intimidation or single party monopoly is part of what Estonians in the west lobbied and fought for, for over 50 years. It is a right that shouldn’t be relinquished out of ignorance, apathy or sheer laziness.
If you are on the voters’ list: just bring along some official photo-ID. (If you have voted in the past or you have an Estonian passport, you are probably on the list.)
If you are not on the voters’ list: present documentation that you qualify to vote, that you qualify to apply for an Estonian passport. And some official photo-ID.
In Ottawa: you can vote at the Estonian Embassy, 260 Dalhousie St., on February 19 and 22, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. (613 789 4222)
In Toronto: you can vote at the Estonian Consulate General, Estonian House, 958 Broadview Ave., on February 20 and 21, from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm. (416 461 0764)
Information is also available from the Estonian Central Council in Canada, 416 465 2219.
ESTONIAN CENTRAL COUNCIL IN CANADA - LL
2007 Estonian parliamentary elections: (41)