The chairpersons of polling stations are better prepared this year than in 2010, mayor Eberhard van der Laan writes in a letter to the council. Should parties still have doubts, then they can send their own observers to polling stations. Jan Paternotte (D66) is not satisfied.
In the past, the Ombudsman has on various occasions found that things went wrong in poling stations. For example, chairpersons not always interfered when people entered the polling booth together. D66 has raised this issue a number of times. In response to new questions from Paternotte, the mayor writes that chairpersons have followed an online course with an exam, and that they are therefore better prepared than in 2010. Paternotte is not satisfied:
In itself, the online course is good. However, we don’t thing that an online course is the best way to prepare chairpersons of polling stations. You can’t train difficult situations, you can’t discuss matters. I’ve done the online course myself, and then took the exam. I answered all questions on polling cards, proxy voting and kiezerspassen [passes allowing one to vote in another city] wrong. Nevertheless I passed: with 10 out 30 questions answered wrong.
Paternotte would like to see observers monitor the voting process. The mayor responded that it is already possible for anyone – ‘including someone on behalf of a political party’ – to attend a polling station and have any complaints registered in the official report. However, Paternotte does not think this implicit invitation is a solution:
The municipality is inviting anyone to be an observer. However, I don’t think observers of one political party will make the process more robust. It would be much better to put independent observers or investigators to see how it goes. The fact that year after year, women can’t vote for themselves because their husband insists on accompanying them to the polling booth is a serious problem.
In the past, there have not only been problems with the behaviour of voters, but there have also been chairpersons of polling stations who made xenophobic remarks. In 2010, the municipality indicated such problems had been dealt with by better screening the volunteers.