Counting ballots manually

Staff members counting ballot papers manually at the Dutch embassy in Berne (Switzerland) in 2010. Photo: Flickr.com / RNW media

No software, as a precaution

After closing of the ballot boxes on Wednesday 15 March 2017 the votes will be counted completely manually, just like in former days, minister Plasterk of the Interior and Kingdom Relations announced on Wednesday 1 February. The Cabinet considers the risk of computers being hacked too high if these are used for establishing the election result.

That is why ballot papers will be used in the election. Moreover, there will be no digital calculation of the election results either this time, given the fact that hacking of the software cannot be ruled out entirely. The minister is in consultation with the municipalities about the best way to arrange for the counting of the votes.

Quick establishing of the result is important

It is important to exercise care in the election process, but it is also important that the results become known in due course for the installation, on 23 March, of the new House of Representatives. This date has been set by order in council.

The Electoral Council is worried that it may not be able to establish a reliable election result in time. Yet, Ms Khadija Arib, Speaker of the House, is of the opinion that it is the Electoral Council's duty to come up with the result in time. After all, not until after result is known can the Credentials committee set to work. This committee scrutinizes the credentials of 150 MPs, including those already holding a seat in the House of Representatives. The committee determines whether the MPs have been appointed correctly and if they comply with all the requirements in place for anyone wanting to be appointed MP (Dutch national, aged 18 or over, no posts incompatible with membership of the House).

Influence from outside

"We must not be naive", minster Plasterk wrote. It may be in the interest of other countries to influence the decision-making and the public opinion in the Netherlands. That is the reason why the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security monitors the security of the election campaign and the elections. This relates to both the physical security of politicians and the cyber security of political parties and politicians.

Fake news

The minister exercises restraint in tackling fake news. In the Netherlands, it is the media themselves who determine what news is. They have to identity fake news. The government is willing, however, to help increase awareness about fake news.

Opinion pollsters and hacks

Can opinion pollsters be hacked as well? What are the authorities doing about that? Opinion pollsters are private companies, the minister wrote. They are themselves responsible for the security of their infrastructure, including the prevention of hacks.