The public prosecution department in Rotterdam has begun an investigation into the collection of proxy votes by supporters of local populist party Leefbaar Rotterdam following the discovery of an email full of tips for getting other people’s voting forms.
The email was sent to party workers by city councillor Ronald Buijt who told reporters on Wednesday night he had done nothing wrong. ‘It was just a way of approaching our own supporters,’ Buijt was quoted as saying in the AD.
But a spokesman for the local election council said: ‘Voters who cannot cast their ballot themselves have to take the initiative to find someone to vote for them by proxy. The voter must take the initiative, not others, such as political parties.’
Council officials in Rotterdam are beginning a recount of all 220,000 votes cast in the port city on Thursday following claims of irregularities at polling stations.
According to the initial election result, Labour is just 651 votes ahead of Leefbaar. Both parties would take 14 seats on the city council.
‘This incident [proxy voting] puts all Leefbaar’s complaints about the election in a different light,’ said local Labour leader Peter van Heemst. ‘I have a bad feeling about this and I feel I’ve been fooled because for the past week Leefbaar has been giving the impression it fought a perfectly clean campaign.’
‘I think this is shocking,’ Arno Bonte, leader of the left-wing greens GroenLinks’ local campaign. ‘Leefbaar Rotterdam has been around for eight years and should know better.’
The local election in Rotterdam has been dogged by controversy, with some papers now calling for a completely new vote.
According to the NRC, there were more than 100 incidents at the polls, ranging from multiple voting, one polling station being left unmanned for a few minutes and party workers trying to recruit support in the polling stations themselves. One ballot box was even found to be empty at the end of the day, the paper claims.