Organizing November’s parliamentary elections a “massive job”

Organizing the parliamentary elections on November 22 will be a massive job, people involved told De Telegraaf. Municipalities are particularly worried about recruiting enough volunteers in time to run the polling stations and count the votes.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte recently called the Netherlands a “slow country,” complaining about the time between his fourth Cabinet’s fall early this month and the election date in November. “I ran into [the British Prime Minister] Sunak at the NATO summit, well he couldn’t recover from it. He was on the floor laughing when I said they were only in November,” Rutte said.

But for the organizers, “the preparation time is extremely short,” Henk van Dijkhuizen of the interest group NVVB said to the Telegraaf. “I understand that our Prime Minister is sometimes a bit impatient, but we really need this. Normally we need six months to organize elections. Now, we have just under four months. And we also start in the middle of the holiday season, which gets in the way a bit.”

In the coming months, the organizers have to check statements of support from parties participating in the elections, print lists of candidates and ballot papers, find locations for polling stations, make a list of eligible voters, send out voting passes, and recruit between 40,000 and 50,000 volunteers, Van Dijkhuizen explained.

Recruiting volunteers, in particular, could be a problem. Many had bad experiences in the Provincial Council and water board elections in March. Vote counting took much longer than expected due to a high turnout and extra rules.

“That is quite a job,” the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) told the newspaper. “After the intensive Provincial States- and Water Board elections in March, many volunteers said that they no longer want to be a member of a polling station or counter. It will therefore take a lot of effort to staff the polling stations.”

The VNG still expects to get everything organized in time. “The date is set, and we have indicated that it should be possible despite the short preparation time,” the association told the Telegraaf. “But we will have to pull out all the stops: tight planning and good agreements with printers, for example.”

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