Attorney’s plea: secrecy of the vote must be guaranteed

bureau Brandeis
01 May 2014

Last Thursday May 1st, hearing took place in the summary proceedings initiated against the Dutch State by the Stichting Bescherming Burgerrechten (a civil rights foundation) and Lucas Kruijswijk. The Dutch minister of Internal Affairs had condoned the making of photos of ballot papers in the polling booths and even encouraged it on Twitter. This is in violation of several international human rights treaties that prescribe secrecy of the ballot in order to guarantee free elections.

Secrecy of the vote is a fundamental right. It aims to prevent voters from being coerced to vote on a certain candidate. Governments have an obligation to guarantee this secrecy. If voters are allowed to make a photo of their vote, this secrecy is derived of its purpose. Voters are at risk of being pressured to take a photo of their ballot paper and prove to their suppresser how they voted. The obligation to vote in secret helps to protect the suppressed.

Attorney Douwe Linders pleaded before the Court: With the European elections in sight (to be held May 22nd) the minister needs to retract his statements and correctly inform the Dutch voters as soon as possible: photos of ballot papers are not allowed.

Pleadings are available here (Dutch only).

The Court will rule on Friday May 9th.

Author: Martine Brons