919 votes from abroad too late

THE HAGUE–More than 900 eligible voters with the Dutch nationality residing abroad were unable to participate in the March 15 Dutch Parliamentary elections because the envelopes containing their vote arrived too late at the voting bureau in The Hague.

In the two weeks following the elections for a new Second Chamber, 919 envelopes with voting ballots from abroad arrived in The Hague. This represents almost 1.5 per cent of the close to 70,000 registered voters living abroad, it became clear from data of the Municipality The Hague which acts as a voting bureau for Dutch people voting abroad.

Consequently, the 919 votes that arrived too late could not be included in the election results. The reason for the late arrival of the envelopes could be contributed to the slower mail service in some countries, but also to the relatively late distribution of the voting documents to a large number of Dutch voters abroad. Voters in the Dutch Caribbean did not meet this problem.

A group of Dutch voters, headed by Democratic Party D66 candidate for the Parliamentary elections Eelco Keij, took the Dutch Government to court in the week before the elections to seek an extension for the envelopes that arrived by mail after March 15.

The Court turned the request down, meaning that the votes from Dutch citizens abroad had to be delivered before March 15, 3:00pm, at one of the 22 Dutch embassies, or as in the case of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, at the local Dutch Representation Office.

Spokesperson of the Municipality The Hague Eric Stolwijk said that the voting abroad was a complex procedure for the city. He explained that the voting documents could only be printed and distributed after the voting lists were officially determined on February 1. “There was a risk that the voting documents would arrive late,” Stolwijk told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.

The regulations for voters residing abroad will be adapted for the next Dutch national elections. Voters will only have to register once, and not register for each individual election as has been the case so far.

In the previous Parliamentary elections in 2012, 709 voting documents or about 1.75 per cent arrived too late to still be included. The majority of the votes of Dutch residents abroad went to D66, followed by the liberal democratic VVD party and the green left party GroenLinks.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/65454-919-votes-from-abroad-too-late