In the Netherlands, elections to the municipal councils take place once every four years. The next elections will be held on 16 March 2022.
In this 2 minute long video the basics of how voting works are explained: watch on YouTube. The video is in Dutch but English subtitles are available. To enable the subtitles/CC, click on the CC button in the lower right hand corner of the video. The default subtitle track is in Dutch, but by clicking on the wheel button (‘Settings’) in the lower right hard corner of the video, you can select ‘English’ under the ‘Subtitles/CC’ option (‘Automatisch vertalen’ choose ‘Engels’).
Who can vote?
Dutch and other EU citizens are allowed to vote in municipal elections, provided that they meet the requirements. Citizens from non-EU countries are also allowed to vote if they have lived legally in the Netherlands for at least 5 years before the election. You will receive a voting pass (stempas) by mail (on your home address) if you meet the criteria.
The criteria are as follows:
- You are aged 18 years or above on 16 March.
- You are registered as a resident in Zwolle.
- You have to be registered in Zwolle on 31st January. If you registered after 31 January, you are not allowed to vote in Zwolle.
- You have EU citizenship, or you have lived legally in the Netherlands for 5 years without interruption. Legal means that you have been registered in the Netherlands during this period and that you had a valid residence permit during this period.
- You must not be excluded from voting.
What do I need to vote?
A personal voting pass has been sent to your home adress. Take this pass and valid proof of ID to any polling station within your municipality to vote. Your voting pass and ID will allow you to vote in any polling station in Zwolle on the day of the election. Your pass proves to the polling station that you have not yet voted at any other polling station, as it has authenticity features and a unique number. A passport or driver’s license counts as valid proof of ID, and may be expired for up to 5 years (17 March 2017 or any date after that).
If you have not received your voting pass, or if you have lost it, you can request a new one online or at the city office (Lübeckplein 2) before 11 March 17.00 pm.
Authorise somebody else to vote for you
If you are unable to vote yourself because you are ill or away, you can authorise another person to vote on your behalf (by proxy) using either the back of your voting pass, or a separate authorisation form. You can only use your voting pass to authorise other residents of the same municipality to vote. To do so, fill in the back of the voting pass, and both you and the authorised person must sign it. You must also give them a copy of your ID, which they must present at the polling station along with their own proof of ID. Authorised persons must also show their own proof of ID, and can only vote on behalf of others while casting their own vote. If you wish to authorise a resident of a different municipality to vote for you, you must submit a written request for a proxy vote. These forms are available online ('Volmacht'). You and your chosen authorised representative must both sign the form, and the representative will receive a certificate of authorisation to vote for you. The form must be submitted no later than 5 days before the election.
For more information about:
- voting on behalf of somebody else
- what to do when your ID card is lost
- voting in a different municipality
- voting from abroad
Where and how to vote?
You can vote at a Polling station (‘Stembureau’). Polling stations are open from 7:30 am to 9:00 pm. No station may be open after 9.00 p.m The closest polling station to you is listed on your voting pass. With your voting pass you have also received a list of other polling station addresses in Zwolle, including which ones have wheelchair access and stations with different opening times. You can also find them online.
At the polling station, you will hand in your voting pass and show your ID, and receive a ballot paper from one of the volunteer staff. Take it into a voting booth, and use a red pencil to choose your candidate by marking or colouring in the box beside their name. Once you have made your choice, fold up your paper to conceal your vote, and put it in the ballot box.
Voting is anonymous, so the booths at the polling station should be arranged so that nobody can see you who vote for. Anybody with a physical impairment is allowed an assistant in the voting booth.
If you do not wish to choose a candidate but still want to exercise your right to vote, you can submit a blank vote. To do so, go to the polling station but do not choose a candidate – leave the ballot paper blank.
Blank votes have only symbolic meaning, and do not influence the allocation of seats. The same applies if you do not vote, so blank votes and unused votes do not go towards the biggest party. Blank votes do count towards election attendance, however.
Mistake on the ballot paper
Marking several boxes or writing/drawing on the form will make your vote invalid. If you accidentally invalidate your vote or make a mistake, you can ask the volunteer staff at the polling station for a new form (only one replacement form per person is allowed).
The official results are determined by the municipal central electoral committee in open session on 21 March. On the evening of the election day, preliminary, non-official results are presented in the media. These preliminary results are based on the 'quick count of votes' by the electoral committees.