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Exercise of their democratic rights in the Netherlands

Exercise of their democratic rights in the Netherlands

“Why do I have to identify myself with my credentials?” – a woman of respectable age asks me, handing me a passport. “Well, I don’t know you, and the only way to determine who you call yourself is through your official papers,” I explain, handing over my passport and handing her a ballot. Every election leaves me at the polling station, when I check my credentials, hand out ballots and make sure that the voting is calm and orderly, and, of course, after the vote count.

Why is this interesting for immigrants?

Well, council elections in the Netherlands are just around the corner, March 14, 15 and 16, to be exact.

Did you know that in non-EU elections and non-EU emigrants, you can also cast your vote? Of course, there are criteria that ensure your right to vote:

  • You are 18+ years old.
  • You have lived in the Netherlands for at least five years in a row.
  • You are in no way exempt from your right to vote (right) in the Netherlands (this applies to people with a serious criminal record or mentally disabled).
  • You are registered in the municipality in which you live.
  • You get a ballot (stamp) from your municipality.

Why vote?

stem “ (vote), as the Dutch call it, also means voice. The opportunity to express one’s opinion is part of a democracy that is highly valued in the Netherlands. If you have lived in this country for five years or more, you are also contributing to the social economy of the municipality, making you an integral part of the community in your municipality. All the reasons to make sure your “stem“Hear!

Power of attorney voting

If you are interested in casting your vote but for some reason cannot get to the polling station, you can authorize someone else to vote for you (proxy voting). Here’s what you need to know about proxy voting:

  • You will need to use the back of your voting pass. There is a section that allows you to authorize another person.
  • It is important that you and the authorized person sign this section.
  • It is very important that the authorized person and you live in the same municipality.
  • Show the authorized person a copy of the identity card or passport. There will also be enough printed or photo by phone.
  • The authorized person must bring the original of his / her identity card and he / she must vote together with the power of attorney at the same time.

Giving your vote

Most municipalities have polling stations in public places such as train and bus stations, supermarkets or other public buildings. The polling station closest to your residence address will be marked on your ballot paper. However, you can cast your vote at any other polling station in your municipality.

All polling stations are open from 7.30am to 9pm, which means you have all day to cast your vote.

At the polling station

After handing over and verifying your credentials, you will be given a ballot paper. In the voting booth you will see a red pencil with which you can draw a circle next to the name of the candidate you want to vote for. Paint the whole circle red.

What if you make a mistake?

Maybe people are painting the circle of the wrong candidate. In this case, you can exchange the ballot for a new one from the precinct member. However, you only get one chance to correct your mistake.

Empty invalid vote

If you want to exercise your right to vote, but do not want to vote for any of the candidates, you can leave the mugs unpainted or blank. This is an empty vote. If instead of painting a circle, you write something else or mark two candidates, your vote will be considered invalid and will not be counted.


Are you active on social media and would like to take a selfie in the voting booth, is this allowed? The answer is yes, as long as you are the only one in the picture, you are not disturbing other people and not trying to influence other people’s voices.


Usually the voting day is limited to one day. To minimize the spread of COVID-19, election day was divided into three days (March 14, 15 and 16) so that people could choose which day they wished to visit the polling station. Wearing a mask is no longer mandatory, but of course if you prefer, you still can.

Taking it for granted

Do not accept your right to vote properly. It would be a pity if you realized the value of this right only after losing it.

So, if you have not voted in the Netherlands before, although you are right in all respects, I would like to invite and encourage you to exercise this right of yours and exercise it so that your vote is heard!

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