The Elections Act prescribes the election procedures and the necessary preparations. At least fourteen days before polling day, each person eligible to vote will receive a voter registration card and, in most cases, a list of candidates. At least four days before polling day this list is also sent by mail to the voters. On polling day people can cast their votes at polling stations from 7.30 am. The polling stations close at 9 pm.
Until 1970 the Netherlands had a system of compulsory attendance at elections. People had to report to the polling station, but could leave without voting. Since 1970 voting is no longer a duty, but a right. As a result, the turnout in polls has decreased. Generally, between 60 and 80% of the Dutch vote for the House of Representatives, which is a rather high percentage compared with other countries.
Most people vote for the person heading the list of candidates of the party of their choice. The second person on the list generally gets a large number of votes, too. However, people are free to vote for any of the candidates. If enough people express their preference for the same candidate, he or she may be elected regardless of their position on the candidate list. Candidates obtaining a number of votes exceeding 25% of the electoral quota are sure of a seat in Parliament, provided that sufficient seats have been awarded to their party. The electoral quota is the number of votes needed to gain one seat in Parliament.