Dutch gov't considering vote by mail for 2021 parliamentary election
The government is considering allowing people to vote by mail in the parliamentary elections next year, sources in The Hague told newspaper AD. The election will be held on March 17.
Vote by mail means that voters can send their ballot by post a few days or weeks before election day. The ballot can also be handed in on election day itself at a special collection point in the municipality. This means that voters won't have to stand in line at the polling stations. Currently only Dutch abroad can vote by mail.
Downsides of voting by mail include that votes may arrive late or go missing in the post. And that there is no way to check that someone wasn't coerced into voting a certain way.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, election day will be extra complicated next year. Some polling stations may not be allowed to open, if they don't have sufficient room for voters and polling station volunteers to stay 1.5 meters away from each other. There are also concerns about people not voting to avoid crowds.
The government is therefore looking for creative solutions. Parliamentarians from the PvdA and D66 suggested opening polling stations early in busy areas, so that votes can be cast over days instead of all voters going to the polls on election day itself.
Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs will announce the government's plans by early November. "I want to examine all constructive proposals to ensure that participating in the elections is as easy as possible for all Dutch people," the Minister said, according to AD.