A court in The Hague had decided that postal voting in the March general election should be confined to the over-70s, despite calls to allow a wider group of people who are vulnerable to coronavirus to take part.
Pro-animal party PvdD went to court in an effort to have the postal voting option extended to others, saying it was discriminatory to youngsters who are also at risk.
However, the court ruled on Friday that the measure is ‘permissible as it now stands’, and rejected the PvdD’s application. In addition, there are sufficient other options, such as the introduction of early voting and expanding the proxy voting option, to enable people to vote safely, the court said.
Earlier this month, members of the government’s Outbreak Management Team voiced their concerns about whether next month’s Dutch elections can go ahead safely.
Several OMT members told NRC that the risks associated with voting should be properly assessed and, if necessary, the vote on March 17 should be postponed.
However, ministers have insisted that elections will go ahead as planned. Home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren told Nieuwsuur last week that there was ‘no need’ to move the vote to later in the year.
‘Corona-proofing’ measures have been taken, such as opening some polling stations two days early, allowing people over 70 to vote by post and installing one-way systems and plastic screens.
‘We can’t give a 100% guarantee, but we’re doing everything we can,’ she said. ‘We have national elections once every four years; it’s an important part of our democracy. It’s not something you should decide to put off lightly.’
There is also concern that the pandemic could have an impact on electoral turnout, particularly if cases are rising. Turnout in French municipal elections last March plunged to a historic low of 45.5%, compared to 63.5% in 2014.
The postal voting rule was brought in after research indicated that 10% of Dutch people over the age of 70 were considering not voting because they were worried about catching the virus.
Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.
We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.Make a donation