Observing elections to improve democracy
The Dutch parliamentary elections this week were of particular interest to the international media to assess whether the apparent rise of populism in the West might be continued with the success of the Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders.
Democracy Volunteers had two representatives in The Netherlands who were in country for the five days before the election assessing the campaign and also assessing whether the UK could learn from the electoral process and the administration of elections.
The team visited The Hague and Delft on polling day and attended polling stations across The Hague. Several observations were made that will be forwarded to the UK’s Electoral Commission as part of our programme of meetings.
‘Family voting’, which Democracy Volunteers has increasingly observed across the UK in recent elections is not unique to the UK. Indeed, the team observed it at a number of polling stations in The Hague. We were allowed to take photos in the polling stations and, as can be seen, ‘family voting’ clearly takes place.
However, unlike the majority of cases we have observed the Dutch election administration is much more rigorous in informing voters that they must vote alone and, unlike the UK, they are also required to post information to discourage ‘family voting’ in the polling stations – something the UK does not do.
As can be seen from the above poster, votes are discouraged from queuing behind voters who are casting their ballot and encouraged to wait in an orderly queue. They are then informed they should vote alone and not go with other people in the voting booth.
(We would like to thank The Hague election authorities for allowing us access to voting in the city and accommodating our observations.)