Overview of main COVID measures at the 2021 elections to the House of Representatives
To minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19 on election day, the electoral process will be somewhat different from usual at the next elections to the House of Representatives, on 17 March 2021. Measures are being taken to ensure that it is safe for voters to vote and safe for polling station officials to do their job at the polling stations.
COVID-19 measures in place in the polling station
- The polling stations will be set up in such a way that voters and polling station officials can keep a distance of 1.5 metres and there is adequate ventilation.
- Polling station officials will do a health check before starting their work. If a polling station official does not pass the health check, he/she will not be allowed to work at the polling station.
- Voters will not enter the polling station if they have any symptoms or may be infected with COVID-19.
- Each polling station will deploy an additional polling station official who will check whether the polling station does not become too crowded and whether everyone adheres to the measures. If necessary, he or she will remind voters of the 1.5-meter distance rule and will ask voters to disinfect their hands.
- Voters must wear a face mask in the polling station.
- Voters must keep a distance of 1.5 metres and disinfect their hands when entering the polling station.
- In the polling station, pencils, polling booths, tables, etc. will be cleaned regularly. In some municipalities, voters will be given a red pencil, which they can take home after voting.
- ‘Sneeze guards’ have been installed to separate voters from polling station officials.
- Before voting, voters will show their identity document to a polling station official by holding their ID in front of the sneeze guard.
- Before voting, voters will do a health check by answering certain questions for themselves. Voters who cannot answer 'No' to all questions in the health check will not go to the polling station to vote in person.
Other voting options
- A voter may cast a proxy vote for up to three other voters. A proxy vote may only be cast by a person who votes in the polling station, not by a person who votes by post.
- Voters who are 70 years of age or older on election day will be given a special poll card (called a 'stempluspas'), which they can use to vote in the polling station or by post. They may also authorize another voter to vote for them (proxy). More information about voting by post.
- Each municipality has a limited number of polling stations where voters can vote early on Monday 15 March and Tuesday 16 March. These days are mainly intended for voters who belong to risk groups and are therefore particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. These polling stations are open from 7.30 am to 9.00 pm.
- In a number of healthcare institutions, only those who reside in the healthcare institution and the institution’s staff are allowed to vote in that institution.
Measures in place during the counting of votes
- Not all polling stations are large enough to keep a 1.5-metre distance during the counting of votes. In those cases, the votes will be counted at a different location.
- After the voting on Monday and Tuesday, the polling stations will (only) count the number of voters that have turned out. The ballot boxes containing the ballot papers will be locked and safely stored together with all polling cards.
- The votes cast on Monday and Tuesday and cast by post will be counted during the course of Wednesday. The results of these votes will be communicated only after all polling stations have closed at 9.00 pm.
Measures due to the curfew
- Voters can cast their vote until 9.00 pm. This also applies to voters who are still in line after 9.00 pm. After that, they can go home unhindered.
- Voters who want to watch the vote counting can do so after 9.00 pm. They do not need a separate declaration for this. They can indicate this orally to the enforcement officers.
- Polling station officials, counters and volunteers involved in the organisation of the elections to the House of Representatives can perform their work during the curfew. For this, they will need proof of their work at the polling station. They will receive a declaration from the municipality stating that they are a polling station official or counter.