Process changed to count some invalid mail-in votes
The method for counting mail-in votes was changed slightly due to a large number of invalid votes. The association of Dutch municipalities VNG announced that some 8 percent of postal votes were invalid, mostly due to the pass and ballot being sent in in the same envelope. The counting process was changed so that these votes can still be counted, Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs informed parliament.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, elderly people were given the option to vote by mail this year. The instructions for voting by mail stated that voters must put the ballot with their vote in the enclosed envelope marked 'briefstembiljet' and seal it. That sealed envelope plus the voting pass both had to go into a larger return envelope, which was sent in. At the polling station, the return envelope was opened and voting pass checked. If all was in order, the still sealed ballot envelope was placed in the ballot box.
But as many elderly voters sent in their ballot and voting pass in one sealed envelope, the Minister decided to adjust the process slightly. The new procedure means that the "briefstembiljet" envelope can be opened to see if it contains a voting pass. If this is the case and the voting pass is valid, the opened envelope with the ballot may be placed in the ballot box. The polling station volunteers will not look at the ballot.
"In this way, voting secrecy remains guaranteed," Ollongren said. She asked the Electoral Council and the Council of State for advice on this change to procedure, and they had no objection, she said.
The municipalities will be informed about the new counting method before noon.