The letter voting was far too complicated. This says ANBO in response to the news that some 65,000 letter votes from over 70 people have not been counted in the past elections because they have not been properly issued. Research carried out by DeccEit and the Open State Foundation showed that 6 percent of the letter votes went so badly that they were put aside.
“ I really like 6 percent a lot,” says Anneke Sipkens, director of the Elderly League. According to her, not only was the procedure far too complicated, but also the communication from the ministry about how the letter voting was going in its work left much to be desired by the ANBO.
KBO-PCOB also calls it a missed opportunity. “65,000 votes make a difference. Better information might have prevented a large part of the error votes,” says spokesman Sven Stijn. “It was all new and more complex than thought. And that is very unfortunate for this group of elderly people, who are usually loyal voters.”
The director of the parent association ANBO regrets that foreign minister Ollongren did not bring these figures out himself after the elections. “We had the impression that after she relaxed the rules, most of the older people‘s votes were still counted,” says Sipkens. “Now it turns out to be different.”
According to the Minister of State Ollongren, the Ministry was still working on an evaluation but was waiting for it because of the complicated procedure. “According to the law, misissued letter votes had to be put aside before the count. This is a different form of registration than in the case of invalid votes and as a result it was not kept by the Electoral Council. It had to be counted through all the municipalities after the elections.”
In a preliminary conclusion, the Ministry also reached 6% aside delegations. “If we want to use letter voting again in the future, we need to see how we can improve this registration,” said the Minister.
MP Renske Leijten is chairman of the Parliamentary Committee which examined the lawfulness of the elections. It finds it worrying that the number of non-counted letter votes is unclear. “The fact that 6% of the letter votes have not been counted is serious, but the fact that this has not emerged in the Electoral Council and the House of Representatives makes it even more serious.”
The Leijten committee could have found this out on their own, because all the documents were examined by them. “We have seen all these reports, but we have only looked at the votes cast and what has happened to them. So we did not take the votes that were not counted,” says Leijten.
She calls for a thorough evaluation of the letter voting process.
The Open State Foundation, an organisation that strives for a digitally transparent government, also advocates this. “Letter voting for the 70s was a novelty and is therefore a process that had to be closely monitored,” explains Tim Vos-Goedhart. “The fact that the postponed letter votes have not been checked by the Electoral Council is not a good thing to us. We therefore call on us to improve the process so that it is as transparent as possible.”
However, according to Leijten, the effect of these non-counted votes on the results of the elections is, in principle, a negative one. Those 65,000 votes would probably have been scattered among the various parties. “But when it comes to preferential votes, it has been quite exciting in a number of cases, and then that difference may have been just in those postal votes. But we’ll never know. The result is established and the result is the result.”
Also professor of empirical political science Carolien van Ham believes that the approximately 65,000 votes would have had only limited impact on the election results. “One seat on the whole results is easy for me, but if it‘s not necessary, you shouldn’t want to. That is why I think that you should only allow letter votes for people who really cannot do anything else, namely those who live abroad.”
The two senior unions still see a future in the letter voting. “It was very nice that the opportunity was offered and we would like to keep the letter voting. But it has to be a much simpler procedure,” says Sipkens.
Foreign Minister Ollongren is particularly pleased with the high attendance rate. “Every vote that does not count is bad, but every person entitled to vote must also have the opportunity to vote, and that was a problem in coronatijd. And the turnout has remained stable. That is very important to me.”