Lost keys, virus outbreak cause problems at polling stations

An Amsterdam ballot for the municipal elections, 21 March 2018
An Amsterdam ballot for the municipal elections, 21 March 2018. (Photo: Zachary Newmark / NL Times)

A number of polling stations across the Netherlands opened late or had to move on Wednesday morning due to various problems ranging from lost keys to a virus outbreak, NOS reports.

A polling station in a residential care center in Hardegarijp, Friesland had to be relocated due to an outbreak of the noro virus, a virus that causes symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and severe abdominal cramps. The polling station was moved to center IT Maskelyn. There was already a polling station there, but its capacity has now been expanded.

On Monday it already became known that a polling station in a care center in Herpen, Noord-Brabant could not open for the same reason. The village now has to make do with one polling station instead of two. 

A polling station in Hilversum opened half an hour late because its key got lost. And one in Haarlem opened an hour late due to a miscommunication between the person in charge of opening the station and the chairman.

Polling station 340 on Abrikozenstraat in The Hague opened late because the locks on the ballot boxes were missing. As long as the ballot boxes can not be locked, voting confidentiality can not be guaranteed. The polling station opened once locks were found. 

The municipality of Stadskanaal deployed a mobile polling station in a bus. But the bus broke down shortly after starting. The fire brigade was called in, and firefighters and bystanders gave the bus a push start. Two hours later, the mobile polling station was back on the road. 

Not all problems at polling stations caused them to open late. Polling station Frankendael in Amsterdam is getting a steady stream of voters. But a significant number of people are tripping over the step, according to Het Parool. 

There was some dissatisfaction at a polling station at primary school De Rank in Arnhem because kids were not allowed to accompany their parents into the voting booth. "No matter how nice that may be, we really check that it doesn't happen", chairman Fred van de Ven said to NOS. Only very young children are allowed in. "If they can not yet see what happens, then it is allowed. But as soon as they can realize what is going on, we do not allow it." A mother of a 6-year-old was upset that she couldn't take her daughter into the booth. "It is our right to vote: she should also be allowed to be part of it", the mother said.

At least one polling station in Zoetermeer was not so vigilant. The municipality of Zoetermeer issued a warning to all polling stations in the municipality, reiterating that only kids younger than three years of age can go into the voting booth with their parents. This follows a Zoetermeer family, with two kids aged four and six, posting on their family blog that one child voted in the referendum and the other in the municipal election. 

In the Limburg municipality of Echt-Susteren, election signs were removed from the vicinity around polling stations, by the mayor's request. "Campaigning is fine, but in and around the polling station, neutrality prevails", mayor Jos Hessels said, according to the broadcaster. 

A polling station in Turfschip in Etten-Leur is working with one fewer ballot box. A child who came in with his parents playfully closed the lid on the box, locking it and thereby making it unusable.