Polling stations open for Ukraine referendum

Ukraine referendum (Photo: @maikel15177656/Twitter)Ukraine referendum ballot (Photo: @maikel15177656/Twitter)

Today citizens of the Netherlands can vote for or against the ratification of an association agreement between the European Union and the Ukraine. The first polling stations opened at 5:00 a.m. in Nijmegen and Castricum. Most others open at 7:30 a.m. As with other elections, the polling stations will be open until 9:00 p.m.

You can vote at any polling station in your municipality. Voting outside your hometown requires a voting pass, which had to be applied for in advance.

At least 30 percent of Dutch voters have to vote in the referendum for it to be valid. The Netherlands has some 13 million voters, which means that at least 3.9 million people have to go vote. Recent polls indicate that this minimum will likely be achieved, according to NOS.

Vote counting will start at 9:00 p.m. As votes are not made electronically, the counting must be done by hand. The expectation is that this will not take as long as in normal elections, as a lower turnout is expected and the only options are "yes" or "no".

The outcome of this referendum is not binding to politicians. The government announced that the outcome will be taken seriously, though exactly what that means will only be evident after the results are in. The Netherlands is the only one of the 28 EU member states that hasn't ratified the association agreement with the Ukraine yet. Parts of the agreement, particularly those dealing with mutual trade, are already in force.