People should “not turn their backs on the electoral process”, chief electoral officer Elikkos Elia said on Saturday.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) with three weeks to go until the reformed local and European elections on June 9, he said people should “go to the polls and vote with patience”.

He added that specimen ballot papers have now been posted online and that voters will now be able to familiarise themselves with them before they go to vote, and that polling stations will “be given all the help they need to that each voter can understand how and what exactly they will vote for”.

With this in mind, he said the interior ministry is preparing the elections and “dealing with the polling stations”, and the “Where and What will I vote for” online service had been launched on Friday, allowing voters to educate themselves on the forthcoming elections.

This, he said, will include directions on how many crosses one can place on a certain ballot paper.

On the process of printing the ballot papers themselves, he said “most” of the ballot papers for the elections have now been printed and that the printers are “working hard to get everything ready”.

Asked about people’s concerns about the sheer number of ballot papers they are set to be faced with on polling day, he said, “an effort will be made to give people the appropriate information, and the specimens are already available online”.

“I invite voters to see the ballot paper so they can familiarise themselves with them, and do not wait until election day to be faced with a ballot paper with which they are unfamiliar.”

He added that being able to see ballot papers in advance is “very important”.

“There is a lot at stake, and we must prepare to take a few minutes to vote in this critical election,” he added.

Moving on to the matter of cost, he said the government had allocated a budget of around €7 million for the elections to take place.

He then added that polling stations will be open from 7am until 6pm with a one-hour break between 12pm and 1pm, but that if there is a large turnout just before polls close, the person in charge of a polling station can keep it open until every voter present at 6pm has voted.

“However, I don’t think this will happen and people will come on time and well before 6pm to vote,” he said.

On the results, he said, the service would try to get the results as early as possible. “Maybe we will be able to have some results on Monday morning after the elections, and we will also issue a programme of announcing the [successful] candidates in various districts.”

Successful candidates for the European parliament will be officially announced on the Monday [June 10], but, Elia said, “the results will be known on Sunday evening”.

Proclamations of local election candidate winners will be made on Monday, June 10 and some on the Tuesday, June 11.