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Belgian and EU elections: How do I cast my vote this Sunday?
After last October's municipal elections, some eight million people in Belgium return to the polls this Sunday for a triple whammy of voting in regional, federal and European elections.
Polling stations everywhere will be open from 8.00 until 14.00. In communes where the vote is done electronically - all of Brussels and about half of Flanders - you can vote for two hours longer, until 16.00.
If you successfully registered to vote with your commune before the deadline, you should have received a confirmation letter that you are on the electoral roll. You should also have recently received a 'convocation' - a polling card that you must bring with you to the polling station (the address is mentioned on it) along with your ID card.
Voters are electing Belgium's 21 MEPs (eight French-speakers, 12 Dutch and one German-speaker). If you have Belgian nationality, your vote will also elect the 150 members of the federal parliament and - depending on where you live - 75 MPs in the Walloon parliament, 89 Brussels regional MPs, 124 members of the Flemish parliament and 25 MPs in the German-speaking community.
At the polling station
If your commune uses paper voting, you will receive up to three different pieces of paper. The federal voting slip is white, the regional one is pink and the European one is blue. If you are one of the 73,000 non-Belgian EU citizens registered to vote, you'll just receive the European slip.
In Brussels and 156 Flemish municipalities, voting is done electronically. Hand over your polling card and your ID to the officer and you will be given a chip card. Take it to one of the booths and insert the card in the machine.
Select a language (French or Dutch) and then tap on the electoral list you wish to vote for. You can either tick the top of the list if you are satisfied with how the candidates are ranked, or cast a preferential vote by selecting one or several individual candidates. You can cast a blank vote without being sanctioned (only failing to turn up at all is an offence).
Press confirm. A ballot slip is printed out, which should be folded in half and taken to the ballot box. Scan the slip's barcode and post it through the hole.
The counting of the votes will start as soon as the polls close.