Annual report 2014 Dutch Electoral Council
In 2014, regular municipal council elections and elections of the Dutch members of the European Parliament were held. In addition, the year witnessed municipal redivision elections for the municipal councils of the municipalities of Alkmaar, Nissewaard, Groesbeek, Krimpenerwaard, ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Oss. In 2014, the Electoral Council made ten recommendations. Some of these recommendations related to the elections of the governing boards of the water authorities, to which the Electoral Act has come to apply. In addition, the Council responded to the Van Beek Committee’s report on electronic voting and vote counting. More information about the activities of the Electoral Council in 2014 can be read in its annual report.
The municipal council elections of 19 March 2014 required the Electoral Council to provide more information and support to municipalities, political parties, voters and, of course, the media. The Electoral Council served as the central electoral committee for the European Parliament elections and was in this capacity responsible for the registration of appellations, the nomination of candidates and for determining the election results. The Electoral Council also for the first time registered the logos of the parties for publication on the ballot paper submitted to voters abroad for the elections to the European Parliament.
In 2014, the Electoral Council made ten recommendations. The Recommendation on the draft decree on amending the Electoral Decree and the Water authorities Decree in connection with combining the Water authority elections with the provincial council elections was issued to the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment. All other recommendations, among others a recommendation on the integral revision of the Electoral Act, were issued to the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.
The Electoral Council issued two recommendations on its own volition, to wit its response to the report of the Van Beek Committee on electronic voting and vote counting and its recommendation in consequence to the municipal council and European Parliament elections. In the latter recommendation, the Electoral Council recommended that the practice of making so-called ‘stemfies’ - photographs voters make of themselves and of their filled-in ballot papers - be disallowed (one Council member adopted a deviating opinion). The Minister stated that, while he believes the secrecy of the vote is one of the most important safeguards of the electoral process, he does not believe ‘stemfies’ should be disallowed. All future developments in this connection will, however, be monitored and assessed.
To the Electoral Council, 2014 was mostly about the preparatory work for the entry into force of the Advisory Referendum Act. Upon this Act’s entry into force in, most likely, July 2015, all voters may apply for a referendum to be held on any newly passed legislation. Implementation of the Act is mainly the responsibility of the Electoral Council, in its capacity of central electoral committee. For instance, the Council is to decide on applications and determine the results of the advisory referenda.