One in eight voters vote by proxy

03/06/2009 15:00

A huge amount of voters in the Netherlands vote by proxy. At the 2006 elections for the Dutch House of Representatives, 12 percent of voters had authorised somebody else to vote for them.

Requests to cast proxy vote by ethnic background and gender, 2006

Requests to cast proxy vote by ethnic background and gender, 2006

People with non-western background often vote by proxy

No less than 21 percent of voters with a non-western background did not vote themselves. The proportion is twice as high as for voters with a western background (10 percent) and native Dutch voters (11 percent). One quarter of female voters with a non-western background vote by proxy, as against one in six of their male counterparts. 

In 70 percent of cases, the partner is requested to cast the proxy vote, in 11 percent parents, in 8 percent children and in 7 percent friends and neighbours or other persons (4 percent).

Requests to cast proxy vote by age and gender, 2006

Requests to cast proxy vote by age and gender, 2006

Fewer over-65s vote by proxy

With 13 and 7 percent respectively, proxy voting is more popular among voters under the age of 45 than among over-65s. Men make the difference: 14 percent of 18 to 45-year-old men have authorised somebody else to vote for them, as against 3 percent of male over-65s.

Married and unmarried people twice as often vote by proxy as widowers or divorced persons. Gender, income and education level do not play a part in this respect.

Proxy votes by political party, 2006

Proxy votes by political party, 2006

Few party political differences

Voting by proxy is a procedure practised by supporters of all Dutch political parties; 15 percent of Party for Freedom voters voted by proxy and 9 percent of the Dutch Labour Party and Christian Union voters.

Compulsory voting system

Most European countries do not allow voting by proxy. All citizens entitled to vote have to go to the polling station themselves. The compulsory voting system requires that individuals show up at the polling station on election day and the system must preclude irregularities from happening, e.g. vote-buying or coercing voters within the same household into handing over their ballot paper.  

Hans Schmeets