Mayors fear parliamentary election will turn into super-spreader event
The mayors of five Dutch municipalities have serious doubts about whether the upcoming parliamentary elections can be arranged safely. They fear that election day on March 17 will turn into a coronavirus super spreader event, and that voters will stay away from the polls fearing that they'll catch Covid-19, the mayors said to NRC.
The mayors of Venray, Medemblik, Echt-Susteren, Zevenaar, and Ede think that the elections should be postponed. "We have to say it very simply: we are not going to do this now," Venray mayor Luc Winants said to the newspaper. Medemblik mayor Frank Streng added: "If the Ministry were to ask all mayors whether they think it a good idea to allow the elections to go ahead, I think you will end up with fifty-fifty."
Mayors are responsible for organizing the polling stations and volunteers for the elections. Due to the coronavirus, election day will look a lot different than usual. Some polling stations can't be used, because they're not big enough to allow for social distancing. And more volunteers are needed to keep everyone 1.5 meters apart and periodically clean the station, among other things. Some polling stations will also open a few days before election day so that voters can spread out more.
The mayors want the cabinet to ask the Outbreak Management Team for advice on whether or not to postpone the election.
On Wednesday, Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relation said that "a small minority" of municipalities is not yet ready for the parliamentary elections. She said that municipalities who do not yet have enough polling stations and volunteers, can ask the Ministry for help.