Voter turnout jumps with new tally

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Norwegian election officials continue to sort through results from last week’s parliamentary voting and have come up with some surprising results: Voter turnout did not decline as initially reported and actually climbed, hitting nearly 80 percent in some areas.

Both politicians and Norwegian media commentators had bemoaned the figures released by election officials shortly after polls closed last Monday night. Those figures showed declines in voter turnout, with around 73 percent of eligible voters casting ballots.

While such voter turnout figures may spark envy in many countries, they were considered low in Norway, where officials believe it is a solemn duty of citizenship to cast a vote. Voter apathy is widely viewed as a threat to Norwegian democracy.

That’s why politicians like Per-Kristian Foss, former leader of the Conservatives, criticized the early voter turnout numbers and blamed them on the lack of cooperation between some of the non-socialist parties. The outgoing president of Norway’s parliament, Thorbjørn Jagland, blamed what he also thought was a low voter turnout on the lack of burning issues in the election campaign.

Now it appears they really had nothing to worry about. Fully 2,682,848 Norwegians cast ballots in 2009 parliamentary election, reports newspaper Aftenposten . More careful registration of activity at the country’s polling places, plus advance and absentee voting, turned up around 80,000 more voters than originally logged.

That led to a nationwide voter turnout of 76 percent as of Tuesday afternoon, and the counting was still going on. That’s higher than in the parliamentary elections of both 2001 and 1993.

In the capital of Oslo, voter turnout hit 77.9 percent.

The detailed counting that’s been going on since the election also led to some confusion regarding which seats in parliament would be granted to which parties. The youngest new member of parliament, from the Progress Party, nearly lost her seat but it was restored earlier this week. Other election results remain unchanged.