What will be the procedure to determine the results of the 2017 House of Representatives results?
In the 2017 House of Representatives elections, voting and counting will take place manually at the polling stations, similar to earlier elections. However, a new feature is that municipalities, principal electoral committees and the central electoral committee will, subsequently, calculate the results at party level manually. In addition, they will only be allowed to use software (Supporting Software for Elections) to check these counts and to work out the results at candidate level. The counts were already - exclusively - passed on by the polling stations on paper. Now, municipalities and principal electoral committees too may only pass on vote totals on paper. All documents on which the final results are based, will be available for inspection or be published on the internet. As such, the results will be verifiable for everyone. What will be the procedure?
Time line to determine results of 2017 House of Representatives elections
From opening of polling stations up to announcing official election results
Polling stations will be open from 7:30 am to 9 pm on 15 March. Since 2009, votes have been cast in the Netherlands by means of a red pencil on paper, after having used a voting machine for over 30 years alongside pencil and paper.
Once the ballot boxes have been closed at 9 pm, the electoral committee members will start manual counting of the votes. Voters may attend counting of the votes. The electoral committee members will first asses how many persons entitled to vote have cast their vote. They will do so by counting the number of valid voting passes, voter's cards and proxy certificates.
After opening the ballot boxes, electoral committee members will first execute a fast count at list level: an addition of all valid votes granted to each political party. The polling stations will pass on the results of this fast count to their municipalities by telephone. The municipalities will pass on the total number of votes in their municipality to Dutch News Agency ANP (Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau). NOS (Netherlands Broadcasting Corporation) will present preliminary results on the evening of election day based on these vote totals.
Having finalised vote counts per political party, the election committee members will count votes per candidate. When vote counts have been completed, the polling station will draw up an official report (report on paper). Voters may attend this. An election committee member will take the official report to the municipality.
After receipt of the official reports (report of the results on paper) from the polling stations, municipal civil servants will add up the results at a political party level. This will be done manually. In addition, the results will be worked out at candidate level by means of a calculation tool (Supporting Software for Elections). The calculation tool must meet specific safeguards*. The result of this addition will be recorded on a form that will be taken to the principal electoral committees in person, together with the official reports of the polling stations. Copies of this form and the official reports of the polling stations will be available for inspection at the town hall.
The principal electoral committees of all (20) electoral districts will manually determine the total number of votes cast, the number of votes cast per list, and per candidate. This will be executed based on the municipal results. This calculation will be executed manually. In addition, the results will be worked out at candidate level by means of a calculation tool (Supporting Software for Elections). The calculation tool must meet specific safeguards*. The principal electoral committees will announce the total number of votes cast in the electoral district in a public session and will draw up an official report thereof (a paper report). The principal electoral committees will take the official report of their session to the central electoral committee (the Electoral Council) in person. The official reports of the principal electoral committees will be published on the internet.
The Electoral Council will calculate the seat division at party level manually, based on the official reports (paper report of the results) of the principal electoral committees. In addition, the results will be worked out at candidate level by means of a calculation tool (Supporting Software for Elections). Use of the calculation tool must meet specific safeguards*. After allocation of the seats and residual seats to parties, the Electoral Council will determine what candidates have been elected. The Electoral Council will announce the result of the elections in a public session on 21 March. The official report of this session will be published on the Electoral Council's website.
Every step in determination of the election result (vote counts at polling stations, principal electoral committees, session of the central electoral committee) will be recorded in an official report. These will either be available for inspection or published on line. Sessions of principal electoral committees and the central electoral committee are open to the public. Voters may put forward any objections at these sessions. These objections will be recorded in the official report.
The - limited - use of software as a calculation tool must meet various requirements, part of which are additional requirements. As such, software will only be used on computers that are not connected to the internet. Every step will be verified by a second person (‘four-eye principle’). And vote counts will no longer be transferred digitally.