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maandag 5 maart 2018

What you need to know about the March 21st local elections

Can I Vote?

If you’re not a Dutch citizen, chances are you’re still eligible to vote in the upcoming local elections on March 21st.

You are eligible if you are over 18 years of age, you are currently living in The Netherlands and you meet either of the following criteria:

  • You are a citizen of an EU member state.  and/or
  • You have been living in the Netherlands for more than five years.

How do I vote?

Voting in The Netherlands is simple and takes just a few minutes. You don’t even need to register separately. If you’re registered as a resident in The Netherlands, you’re also registered as a voter. If you haven’t yet registered as a resident, you need to do that at your local Town or City Hall.

Your eligible to vote if you meet the criteria as described above. In that case, you will automatically receive a so-called ‘voting pass’ (stempas) at your home, no less than two weeks before the election on March 21st. You need this personal ‘voting pass’ (fig 1) on election day to vote, so make sure you keep it safe!

On election day, March 21st, you can go to any polling place within the municipality where you live. You need to bring a valid photo-ID – a passport, a European ID card or a Dutch driver’s license – and your personal ‘voting pass’ in order to be allowed to cast your ballot. You will be handed a ballot at the polling place (fig2). On the ballot, you color the circle next to the name of one candidate red. That’s the candidate, and his or her party, that you have voted for.

You can always ask for instructions on the voting process form the volunteers at your polling place. There are polling places at all Town- and City Halls, at most train stations and at many locations within your municipality. For a full list of polling places, check the website of your local municipality. You have to vote within the municipality where you live, but you can pick any polling place within you municipality to cast you ballot.

Why should you vote?

Municipalities are responsible for many aspects of public life. They finance the construction and renovation of schools. They plan and maintain public spaces like parks and roads. They subsidize organizations in areas like sports and culture. They provide affordable housing and maintain a balanced housing market. They are responsible for most aspects of care for youth and elderly. The provide welfare payments. And municipalities collect their own taxes, like property taxes and parking- and waste charges, setting their own tax rates.

Because local government influences daily life of residents greatly, expats are eligible to vote in local elections. You pay taxes in your municipality, you send your children to school, use healthcare and go to the theater. That’s why you deserve representation.