The electoral dichotomy of the Netherlands: to correct and move forward or to quit and go back?


A little over a week ago, the Netherlands held early parliamentary elections. With an electoral roll that exceeds 12.5 million citizens, the already significant exercise of suffrage does not enter into discussion, but it takes an important place in the current electoral system.

The fact that the eurozone’s seventh economy would reverse the implementation of electronic voting, should draw attention and serve many other nations, without turning their backs on technology, to demand reliable and transparent systems, because at present they exist and are used successfully in dozens of nations.

The country questioned the security of computer system developed by the international private company Nedap (mainly because their voting equipment do not print proofs of the vote) and though in principle it left the possibility of resuming the use of technology to automate the entire the electoral process open, the motion was denied, and today, the modernization of voting in the Netherlands is on standby. Nedap also lost the elections conducted in Curacao, the largest and most populated island in the Caribbean, because of not providing equipment that prints the votes receipt.

The need to resume the debate on electronic voting in the Netherlands has to do with the fact that in the recent elections held with the old manual system, the old vices were present. The reports presented show a decrease in more than five share points; complicated and immense ballots because the parties could make between 50 and 80 candidates on their lists; overcrowding in several electoral districts led to a serious logistical problem: too many voters in one polling place caused that the size of the ballot was insufficient and, as the election law prohibits the opening of the same before the end of the day, schools had to resort to new polls or attempt to force the entry of ballots.

There were also many complaints on the costly and slow process of hand counting of the votes. The fact that the Netherlands dismissed the machines, responds to a specific situation that jeopardized the exercise of suffrage, as the Home Office claimed at that time. However, after this election and the problems that came with it, the Dutch mayors have formally requested a return to adopt electronic voting to optimize the voting ballots and allow fast and reliable processes.

The Netherlands faces the dichotomy to quit or correct the automated voting system, not only to reap the benefits of technology in the service of democracy, but to give its citizens the chance to vote in a safe, fast and reliable way. That technology that promotes transparency and efficiency exists, what is lacking is the political will.

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