Early voting off to a slow start; Amsterdam mayor casts ballot for “young woman”
Municipal elections in the Netherlands got underway on Monday morning with polling places open for early voting. Residents can cast their ballot through Wednesday evening. Although many stations are open, only a small percentage of residents voted for municipal elections in the four major cities by 1:30 p.m. on the first day.
In Amsterdam, 0.8 percent of those entitled to vote went to the polling station, similar to 0.9 percent who voted in Rotterdam. About 1.4 percent of the residents of The Hague voted early, as did 1 percent in Utrecht.
Early voting was introduced because of the coronavirus during the last election, to ensure a spread of voters in polling stations. Not all polling stations are open yet. In total, people in the capital can visit about five hundred locations on Wednesday - the actual election day. The votes from Monday and Tuesday will be counted on Wednesday during the day in the RAI.
Amsterdam is still short of poll workers for election night. The capital needs around 2,000 people to count ballots, and is about 250 people short, according to election project leader Rosalinde Nierop. Some 26 political parties are participating in the capital, and there are many candidates running for office. "We, therefore, expect the counting to take longer."
In Amsterdam, voters vote not only for the city council but also for new district committees and the Weesp administrative committee. It is the first time that Weesp is part of the Amsterdam municipal elections, as the town officially joins the municipality of Amsterdam on March 24.
Halsema casts her ballot
After giving the official go-ahead for elections in the capital, Mayor Femke Halsema also cast her vote at the Oosterkerk in Amsterdam on Monday.
Halsema arrived at the polling station around 9 a.m., one of about fifty locations in Amsterdam that is already open on Monday and Tuesday. She said that she finds the voting period "always incredibly exciting.” The mayor said she hoped for the highest turnout possible. She added, "I especially hope that many young people will vote."
Halsema did not share who had received her vote, but she did say that her ballot went "to a young woman."
Rita Verdonk returns in a shiny limousine
Rita Verdonk, number two on the candidate list of the local party Hart voor Den Haag/Groep de Mos, did cast her vote in The Hague on Monday afternoon. The former VVD Minister arrived in a special green and yellow limousine, the colors of both The Hague and the local political party, Hart voor Den Haag. She voted in Wijkcentrum 't Benoordenhuis.
In the previous municipal elections, Richard de Mos's party was the largest in The Hague with eight seats. This year is no different. According to several polls, the party is the virtual frontrunner in the royal city.
De Mos was formerly a PVV member in the Tweede Kamer. He was an alderman in The Hague for a year, but he resigned after police raided his city hall office. De Mos is suspected of official corruption. He is said to have helped in supplying friends who were business owners with permits. That investigation is still ongoing.
D66 leader votes in Leiden after mishap
Jan Paternotte, party leader of D66 in the Tweede Kamer, is another politician who cast his vote Monday. He voted in Leiden at the Zuiderkwartier playground. He originally wanted to vote at the Sint Joseph primary school, but the polling place was closed on Monday.
Reporting by ANP.