The current corona measures will also take effect in next year’s elections. In this way, voters will be able to vote safely in March, Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren wrote in a letter to the House of Commons.
Ollongren had been researching over the past few months whether and how the elections could go safely. The basic principle is that the known measures are applied in polling stations to prevent the spread of the corona virus.
People must be five feet apart, including those at the polling stations. In addition, personal protective equipment must be available for the members of the polling station and the polling station must be well ventilated. With their voting pass, people receive a health check, comparable to the questionnaires they know from the hotel industry. If your answer to any of the questions is “yes”, people are expected to stay away.
People who do not come to the polling station can then, as always, give someone else a proxy. In the next year, voters can cast a maximum of three instead of two voting proxies.
Not all polling stations from four years ago can be used because, for example, there is insufficient distance to be maintained or because a polling station is located in a health facility. In order to ensure that enough polling stations are available, alternative locations will be sought in the near future.
Local authorities also believe they will get into trouble as not all staff who are more prone to corona will be available. Therefore, a national recruiting campaign is being started together with the municipalities, writes the minister. There is also a special focus on young people. The campaign is scheduled to start at the end of October.
Ollongren insists that “the starting point, of course, is that the elections can take place in a way that is safe for voters.” A scenario in which people can vote by letter is still being worked out. The Minister will come back to this in November.
To arrange all of this, Ollongren has drafted a temporary emergency law. This should, for example, make it possible to set up additional mobile polling stations.
Ollongren wants to present the emergency law to the house by early October at the latest. The Island Council elections on St. Eustatius are likely to come early, but Ollongren hopes to have the bill passed by parliament before the November 18 reclassification elections.
In order to make the elections corona-safe, the minister has given the municipalities 30 million euros.