Saturday 19 October 2019

British in the Netherlands can vote in EU election, if they register on time

Photo: J M Luijt at Dutch Wikipedia

Thousands of British nationals in the Netherlands who register before April 9 to vote in the European elections will be able to cast their ballot, whatever happens with Brexit, the Dutch voting council has confirmed to DutchNews.nl.

The new position comes in a briefing from the home affairs ministry to all 355 local councils last week, which outlines what they should do about British voters now Brexit will not take place before April 12, at the earliest.

British voters who have officially registered their intention to vote in the Netherlands before the cut-off date of April 9 should be sent a voting pass along with everyone else, the letter states.

‘It could be that the UK leaves the EU in the period between April 9 and May 23,’ the briefing states. ‘ In that case the right of British nationals who have registered, remains unchanged. You should not include their voting passes in the register of invalid passes.’

Dutch election law states that the day that candidate nominations close – April 9 – is leading when it comes to deciding who should be able to vote for the European parliamentary elections in the Netherlands.

Confusion

There had been confusion in British community groups about who could vote after Utrecht wrote to its British residents saying they would be able to vote, whatever happened.

A spokeswoman for Utrecht council told DutchNews.nl that they had taken the decision based on a briefing from the home affairs ministry. ‘That letter makes it clear that official list of who can vote is fixed on April 9, and therefore British nationals will be able to vote,’ she said.

Amsterdam, by contrast, states that British nationals will be excluded. ‘If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, the municipality where you are registered will cancel your registration for voting in the election,’ the letter, send to thousands of British nationals in the Dutch capital said.

A copy of the Amsterdam letter seen by DutchNews.nl  was sent to residents on March 7, three weeks before the new instructions from the home affairs ministry.

DutchNews.nl has asked Amsterdam if it intends to send out a new letter to British residents with the latest information.

Delays

British prime minister Theresa May has said she would try to delay the April 12 exit date, which has already been delayed from March 29.

According to the Financial Times, British officials have already begun making preparations to hold European elections.

According to CBS figures, some 360,000 European adults will be allowed to vote in in the European elections in the Netherlands, including some 42,000 British adults.

To register, potential voters have to fill in a special form, known as Y32, and either post, or email it, to the local authority where they are registered.

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