Dutch municipalities call for a more efficient election process

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)

The Netherlands' current election process - with manual voting, polling stations that stay open for long hours, and manual vote counting - is no longer feasible and can give rise to doubts about results' reliability. The association of Dutch municipalities VNG and the Dutch association of civil affairs NVVB therefore composed an 'Election Agenda 2021' with several proposals for making this process more efficient, NOS reports.

The Agenda is focused on 2021, because that's when the next parliamentary election is scheduled. The agenda will be presented at a NVVB conference on Wednesday and Thursday.

The first point on the agenda, is whether the Netherlands should continue voting manually. This has been a topic of discussion among Dutch politicians for some time. So far there's been no transition to electronic voting due to concerns over security and privacy. The possibility of counting votes electronically is also n the Agenda. The VNG and NVVB also want to look at possibilities for digitally transferring information from polling stations to the main station, for example by using blockchain technology.

According to the VNG and NVVB, the current ballots are no longer manageable. They are too big and cluttered, which increases the chance of errors during voting and counting. During the municipal elections last month, there were major differences in recount results and original results in a few places. The two associations therefore call for a handy ballot, that can be easily scanned. 

The quality of polling station workers must also improve, the associations write. According to them, the average age is currently quite high. As election days are long and workers often have to count votes for hours after the polling station closes, working with teams is perhaps an option.

Finally the VNG and NVVB make proposals about the election day itself. They suggest moving election day to the weekend, and shortening opening hours so that there is more time to count.

The associations will discuss their proposals with Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations soon, according to the broadcaster.