Elections of the House of Representatives
In normal circumstances, elections to the House of Representatives are held every four years, either in March or in May (depending on whether elections to the provincial councils or municipal councils are also held that year). Due to the corona virus, additional measures are in place to ensure a save voting process. These measures include early voting on Monday 15 March and Tuesday 16 March, in particular for voters considered vulnerable to the corona virus. In addition, voters aged 70 or older have the option to vote by post. Furthermore, a voter may cast a vote by proxy for three persons, instead of two.
Municipalities may decide to have the elections to the House of Representatives take place concurrently with other elections.
Eligibility to vote
A voter must meet the following requirements to be entitled to cast their vote in the elections to the House of Representatives:
- the voter must possess Dutch nationality
- the voter must be 18 years of age or over
- the voter must not be debarred from voting
The same requirements apply to residents of the Caribbean part of the Netherlands, i.e., the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.
Registration of political parties
New political parties can apply for registration of an appellation (party name) with the Electoral Council. Registration of a name is not required. A political party may also opt to participate in the elections as a so-called 'blank list'.
On nomination day, all political parties submit their list of candidates to the central electoral committee: the Electoral Council. Political parties participating in the elections to the House of Representatives for the first time and parties that failed to gain a seat in the previous elections are required to pay a deposit. In addition, they must submit declarations of support for each electoral district. When drawing up their list of candidates, political parties may make use of the Election Supporting Software (ESS).
Polling stations are open from 7.30 a.m. to 9.00 p.m. Only special polling stations may open their doors at an earlier time. No station may be open after 9.00 p.m. As many polling stations as possible, but no fewer than 25% of the total number, must be in buildings accessible to voters with a physical impairment and be in a location that is easy to reach for such voters.
Casting a vote
Everyone eligible to vote will receive an invitation to cast their vote sent to their home address no later than fourteen days prior to election day. This invitation includes their poll card. The poll card allows the voter to cast their vote in the polling station of their choice within the municipality's borders. Holders of a voter card may cast their votes in any municipality in the Netherlands.
Voting by proxy
Voters unable to cast their vote in person on election day may have their vote cast by proxy.
All voters casting their vote must show identification to identify themselves. Any such identification may not have been expired by more than five years.
On the evening of the election day, preliminary, non-official results are presented in the media. The Electoral Council publishes the official results of the elections to the House of Representatives in open session. The preliminary results are based on the 'quick count of votes' by the electoral committees. The results of the elections to the House of Representatives are stored in the Electoral Council's election results database.
The members of the House of Representatives are appointed by the central electoral committee (the Electoral Council). Once it has been determined that a particular candidate was elected, an assessment is conducted to determine whether this candidate may hold a seat as a member of the House of Representatives. A so-called examination of credentials is conducted to determine whether the candidate meets the membership requirements and whether they do not hold any positions incompatible with being a member of the House of Representatives.
Overview of the Dutch House of Representatives
All Dutch nationals entitled to vote can choose who to represent them in the House of Representatives once every four years (or at an earlier time if a government falls and dissolution elections are held). Together with the Dutch Senate, the House of Representatives forms the Parliament of the Netherlands (referred to as the States-General in the Constitution of the Netherlands). The House of Representatives is composed of 150 members. The two most important tasks of the House of Representatives: are supervising the government and making new laws. The government (comprised of Prime Minister, Ministers and Secretaries of State) is not elected. Following the elections to the House of Representatives, the political parties negotiate to form a coalition supported by a majority of the House of Representatives.
For further information, please refer to the website of the Dutch House of Representatives.