Your right to vote

If you reside in the Netherlands and fulfil certain conditions, you may be eligible to vote in regional elections. We break down the requirements!

Voting in municipal elections

A municipality (or gemeente, in Dutch) carries out tasks that directly affect local residents, like household waste collection, registering addresses, building and maintaining streets and public places, and paying benefits. This is the level of government that is closest to the people, and it plays a central role in shaping the city you live in.

Municipal elections take place every 4 years. Dutch and other EU citizens are allowed to vote in municipal elections, provided that they meet the requirements. Citizens from non-EU countries are also allowed to vote if they have lived legally in the Netherlands for at least 5 years before the election.

Who can vote in municipal elections?

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must be a resident of a municipality (e.g. the Maastricht municipality). You must have the right to vote in the municipality where you are registered on the day when the candidates are nominated, i.e. 44 days before the election
  • Residents without EU citizenship must have lived legally in the Netherlands for at least 5 years before the election

Who can stand for municipal elections?

The requirements for standing at the elections to the municipal council are virtually the same as the requirements for being entitled to cast a vote.

How does voting work?

If you are a resident of Maastricht, you will receive a voting pass (in Dutch: stempas) at the address you are registered, and no later than two weeks before the date of the elections. With a voting pass, you can cast your vote in any polling station within the Maastricht municipality. To do so, you must bring a valid photo ID (for EU citizens, this can be a passport, driver’s licence or ID).

If you didn’t receive a stempas, or lost it, you can either:

  • Request one online (link in Dutch) with DigiD (there is a specific timeframe during which you can do this, so check the link to make sure!)
  • Request one in person (link in Dutch) at the municipality building; again, there is a timeframe in which to do this; you must also bring valid photo ID

On election day, you can vote at one of Maastricht’s polling stations (stembureaus). They’re open all day: from 7:30 in the morning until 21:00 in the evening. Most polling stations have a clearly visible flag in front, so they should be easy to spot.

Voting is usually a quick and easy process; you can be in and out in under 10 minutes, and there are plenty of volunteers at the polling stations to help out if you’re unsure of what to do.

Voting in water authority elections

Anyone residing in the Netherlands can vote in water authority elections (in Dutch: waterschapsverkeizinen), regardless of nationality, provided that you meet certain conditions. Water authority elections take place every 4 years at the same time as the provincial council elections.

The water authority is responsible for maintaining the dikes and sluices. It ensures the correct water level and are in charge of purifying waste water.

Who can vote in water authority elections?

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You are a resident of an area covered by the water authority. You are entitled to vote for the water authority where you live on the day when the candidates are nominated, i.e. 44 days before the election

How does voting work?

The process is pretty much the same as with the municipal elections. You’ll receive a stempas at your registered address (again, no later than two weeks before the election), and you can vote for both municipal representatives and the water authority at the same polling station. Don’t forget your valid photo ID!

Voting by proxy

In the case that you are not able to vote yourself on the election day due to work or illness, you can authorise another person to vote on your behalf. 

There are two ways in which you can authorise someone to vote on your behalf. The first option is that you complete and sign your stempas. However, please note that the proxy (so the person who is voting on your behalf), must be either registered in Maastricht or be able to vote in Maastricht using a kiezerspas

Here are the steps to proxy voting with your stempas:

  1. Fill in the back of your stempas and sign it.
  2. Have your proxy also sign the back of your stempas. 
  3. Provide the proxy with a copy or a clear photo of your ID. You can also give your ID to them. Your ID can be expired but not by more than 5 years.
  4. Your proxy is now able to use your stempas and ID to vote in Maastricht. They also need to show their own ID at the polling station. 

The second method is to use a form and DigiD. This is a bit trickier and has to be done by a certain date (date changes depending on the election). The proxy must fill out the Verklaring gemachtigde form and the completed form needs to be uploaded to the online application using your DigiD. 

More information about proxy voting can be found on the municipality website

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