Many Dutch vote by proxy

Many voters in the Netherlands use the possibility of voting by proxy. In the 2010 Lower Chamber elections, 8 percent of voters had authorised someone else to vote for them. With 12 percent, the proportion was even higher during the 2006 elections.

Fewer proxy votes after introduction of stricter legislation

Last year, legislation regarding voting by proxy was tightened. Since then, voting by proxy is only permitted, if a copy of the identity card of the person who grants proxy can be presented. This may have caused the reduction of proxy voters by 4 percentage points and may also partly account for the dramatically lower turnout of voters by 5 percentage points to 75.4 percent. Stricter legislation can also have a downward effect on the turnout for the provincial elections on 2 March 2011.

Election turnout, 1970–2010

Election turnout, 1970–2010

Voting by proxy has much support

In most European countries voting by proxy is not allowed. Every voter must come to the polling station themselves to avoid irregularities like buying votes and coerce voters to hand over their voting cards.

A huge majority of 84 percent of Dutch voters think voting by proxy should also be possible in the future. On the other hand, 9 percent think everybody should cast their votes themselves; 6 percent have no opinion and 91 percent fully endorse compulsory identification at the polling station by means of passport or driving licence.

Older people more sceptical about fair elections

Some 72 percent of voters have (very) much faith in fair elections in the Netherlands; 11 percent have (very) little faith in fair elections. The remainder of 17 percent take up a neutral stance. Older voters less often than young voters believe election procedures in the Netherlands are fair. In the age categories under 55, one in ten at most have little faith in fair elections. Over-55s are obviously more sceptical.

Faith in fair elections by age, 2010

Faith in fair elections by age, 2010

Hans Schmeets