“The Lion King from the Lion King?” “Simba?” “No.” “Um Mufasa!” “Correct!” Presiding officer at the polling station, Annekris van der Feer, guesses correctly, and not for the first time today. Just like during last year’s national elections, polling station staff are playing charades, where someone tries to guess what the other person has just described. They are all from the same district team and know each other well. Today ‘democracy calls’, says Van der Feer.
The game is being played at a fast pace in the Theil building hall at quarter past 11 on Wednesday morning. That might be due to the high sugar content of the brownies that polling station staff member Susanne Sliep has baked specially for the day. “It’s a Nigella Lawson recipe. Personally, I don’t like sugar,” she chuckles. “But I thought it would be nice to share them today.”
Is the game of charades necessary to stave off boredom or has it already been busy at the polling station? Van der Feer says that they haven’t yet been overwhelmed with voters. “We’ve now had 78 municipal council votes and 48 district council votes.” She expects around 350 municipal council votes at this polling station by the end of the day. “Which is not as many as at national elections.”
Accounting and insurance student Marinka then arrives. As the only voter, she receives a royal welcome. After showing her voting cards, she is given a red pencil and she walks to one of the booths. Who did she vote for? She answers enthusiastically: “ChristenUnie. Not just for the Christian element, but because I feel it’s the party for everyone.”
Hoog bezoek en een cactus
From the matt herringbone floor in the dark room of the RSC/RVSV main building in Kralingen, a stale smell of beer rises. Beside the bar are three ballot boxes. Sanna Plessius is presiding officer of the polling station and works during the week as tax advisor at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. “This is a nice day out,” she says. This morning at 9 o’clock, mayor Aboutaleb arrived here to vote. “He’s a nice man and the entourage and press brought some life into the building.” Around lunch time, 170 people arrive to vote for the municipal council. For the district votes, there are now 130 ballot papers in the box.
It’s busy at the association. A girl comes in with a friend. She’s brought a cactus. Does the cactus have a vote too? “No, it’s a present for a friend, but I can’t take the plant into the polling booth, it’s a bit awkward.” She nonchalantly throws the cactus on a chair and rushes to the polling station. Economics student Marijn is authorised to vote for his housemate too. “He’s got his arm in plaster.” In terms of politics, Marijn and his housemate are on the same page. “We’re both voting Volt. At least something happens there, and they are progressive.”
At the door of the building are third-year RSC/RVSV member Marloes and fellow association member Daphne. Marloes says that the RSC is happy to have a polling station in the building again: “It means that some local residents come along too.” A surprising number of former members also come to vote at the association, she says. “They come and reminisce and look at the year photos.” Someone was just here to vote for the first time, laughs Marloes: “He asked surprised: ‘Are you only allowed to colour in one box?’ He apparently had no idea.”
Last-minute help casting your vote
Still not quite certain which box you’re going to tick on the ballot paper? Forget…
At the polling station in Erasmus University College, there’s a large pack of cookies on the table. “We were given them by the municipality,” laughs presiding officer Sanne Kos. In daily life, she is self-employed. It’s not the first time that she’s been the presiding officer of a polling station. What’s different this year? “This year, there are no packed lunches, and no one may take the red pencil home with them. Today, Kos expects six hundred voters in the building on Nieuwemarkt. At around half past one, 170 votes have been cast for the municipal council and 130 for the district council.
A young student comes in and is startled to see the notice: “Shit, the sticker on the door says that I need to bring my ID with me.” A friendly polling station staff member answers: “Sorry, we can’t help you then.” The student was not the only one who wasn’t fully prepared. A woman stares at the photos of the candidates for the district council. “I’ve never seen any of those people, have you?” she laughs.