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EXPLAINED: How to vote in Norway’s local elections

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: How to vote in Norway’s local elections
Here's what you need to know about the voting process in Norway. Pictured is Oslo City Hall at night. Photo by Andre Morales Kalamar on Unsplash

Foreign residents who have lived in Norway for more than three years will have the opportunity to vote and shape their local area in the years to come. Here’s what you need to know about casting your vote.

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There isn’t long to go until Norway’s population heads to ballot boxes nationwide for the September 11th county and municipal elections. 

Far from simply acting as a barometer for the 2025 general elections, the local elections offer an opportunity for foreign residents to vote. 

Those who are 18 or are turning 18 by the end of the year will be allowed to vote in the local elections. Nordic citizens who have registered as living in Norway before June 30th 2023, will be able to vote in the local elections, as will all other foreign citizens who have lived in Norway for at least three consecutive years before the election date.

The local elections offer foreign residents the chance to make an important difference in their local areas by casting their vote. We have covered the biggest election talking points and where the mainstream parties stand on them in Bergen and Oslo

All those with the right to vote should have received an election card. The card contains details about the location of the polling stations on election day and information on voting in advance. Voting cards have been sent to digital mailboxes and Alltin. Those without any digital mailboxes should have been sent a paper version. 

Enrollment in Norway’s electoral role happens automatically, and residents can vote in the municipality they were registered as living in as of the end of June this year. 

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Voting in advance is available but will end shortly (September 8th). When voting in advance, you can vote anywhere in the country, and the vote will then be posted to your home municipality. You can use this tool (in English) to find your nearest polling station.  

To vote, you must bring a photo ID with you. This can be a passport, national identity card, driving licence or bank card with a photo. You do not need to bring your voting card, which will speed up the process. 

In Norway, the voting system is geared towards proportional representation, so the ballot paper will look slightly different from other places. 

When you enter the ballot booth, there will be a set of papers for the municipal election (or district if you are in Oslo) and one for the county (or city council in Oslo). The ballots for the different sets of elections will have different colours. 

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If you want to vote for a specific party list, these are the candidates representing one party and are assigned seats proportionally to votes, you take the ballot party of the vote and need nothing else. To give a personal vote to specific candidates on the party list, you place a mark in the box next to their name. 

Norwegian elections allow you to give some of your power to specific candidates only and even candidates from other parties. 

This is known as “throwing” and means a list vote is given to the party the ‘thrower’ comes from at the expense of the party being voted for

To give a personal vote to specific candidates on the party list, you place a mark in the box next to their name. To assign a vote to a candidate from another party, you add the name of the candidate(s) in the specified place on the ballot paper. When you do this, a proportion of your vote will be transferred from the party ballot paper to that specific candidate. 

Once you’ve done this, you fold your ballot paper. All ballots look identical, and there is no way to identify the party ballot you have selected. 

Then, you will be asked to show some photo ID to confirm your right to vote, and you’ll get a stamp from the election official. Your vote will not be counted if you don’t get a stamp. Once you’ve been stamped, you can put your ballot papers in the ballot box, and you’ve officially voted. 

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