April 17, 2023 – 8:00 AM
At the moment, only voters who cannot vote independently due to a physical disability can receive help in the voting booth. Minister Bruins Slot of the Interior and Kingdom Relations wants to make help in the voting booth possible for anyone who asks for it. For example, voters with an intellectual disability or voters who are low literate. A member of the polling station will assist these voters. This is stated in the bill that the minister will submit to the Council of State for advice.
By arranging for help to be provided to all voters who request it, it is expected that more voters will be given the opportunity to vote themselves. Help can only be given by a polling station member. The government emphasizes in the bill that the voter who receives the help must always indicate who he/she wants to vote for.
Minister Bruins Slot: “Even among voters who are low literate or voters with an intellectual disability, the desire to be able to vote independently is often great. But because they have difficulty reading or because of their disability, that can be difficult. Under the current Elections Act, assistance in the voting booth is then not possible. With this bill, we ensure that these voters can also participate in the election process themselves, with practical help from a polling station member.”
The intention is to first experiment with an election and then see whether the aid can be introduced nationwide. In the first election after the bill comes into effect, the intention is to experiment in approximately 15 municipalities. By first experimenting, it should become clear how polling station members can best be equipped to provide assistance to voters and what the consequences are for implementation in practice. The experiments should also clarify whether the assistance described in this bill will lead to more voters voting in person. After gaining experience, it can be expanded to more municipalities in subsequent elections.
UN Convention on Disability
The Bill on Assistance in the Voting Booth is in line with the UN Convention on Disability and with the wish of various organisations, such as the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, to make assistance with voting in the voting booth available to a wider group. The Electoral Council also previously recommended making assistance by a polling station member possible for voters with an intellectual disability.
Recently, there have been extensive discussions with interested organizations about what help in the voting booth should look like. Careful considerations were made with regard to voting freedom, voting secrecy and the accessibility of the election process. The proposal makes it possible for any voter who requests it to receive help from a neutral person. If the voter were allowed to take someone of his choice into the voting booth, this could considerably increase the risk of situations arising in which the voter is forced to make a certain voting choice. While the purpose of this law is precisely to enable voters to vote as independently as possible. By only allowing assistance to be provided to a polling station member, and also to a polling station member who has been specially trained for this purpose, this form of assistance offers the best guarantee for voter freedom and voting secrecy, according to the government.
The Council of Ministers has agreed to send the bill to the Council of State for advice. The text of the bill and the advice of the Council of State will be made public when it is submitted to the House of Representatives.
Source: Central government