Open polling stations two weeks before parliamentary election to avoid crowds, MPs suggest
The D66 and PvdA want Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs to look into whether polling stations can open two weeks before the parliamentary election next year. This does not have to happen everywhere, but in municipalities where crowds are expected. The parties worry that crowds in corona times will prevent people from voting, NOS reports.
"It is not bout opening all polling stations in the country all day long for two weeks," PvdA parliamentarian Attje Kuiken said. "But it could help in some places to create more opportunities to vote at certain times for two weeks." This could really help people with mobility problems or vulnerable health, she said.
The parties realize that their plan will require many extra volunteers, will be more expensive, and will need more organization, but they call on the Minister to see what is possible. The costs involved have not been calculated yet, but the PvdA and D66 want these to be covered by the national government, not the municipality.
D66 parliamentarian Jan Paternotte pointed out that other countries already allow for early voting. "New Zealand has such an 'early voting system': almost half of the voters there already vote before election day. And in some states in America, the ballot boxes for the presidential election are already open."
Whether enough volunteers can be recruited for this plan is not clear. Last week Ollongren said that many more volunteers than usual will already be needed for the upcoming election. Some 70 thousand are needed - 40 thousand people at the polling stations during the day, and 30 thousand for counting ballots that night. Reserve polling station workers will be needed on top of that, in case volunteers have to stay home with Covid-19 symptoms.