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Brussels expats get voter registration reminder on deadline day

15:13 04/03/2019

Expats living in Anderlecht and Brussels-City have finally received their reminders to register to vote in the European elections in May. Unfortunately, the letters did not arrive in the post until 28 February, the deadline to register.

Some 20,000 reminder notices were mailed to foreign nationals by the federal interior ministry much too late to allow them to register for the European elections. The elections take place – together with Belgium’s federal and regional elections – on 26 May.

EU citizens living in any EU country are allowed to vote in the elections but must be registered. The deadline to register for the elections was last Thursday, 28 February.

Those who are already registered in Belgium don’t need to worry; foreign nationals stay on the electoral roll unless they request to be removed.

‘The EU says so’

“The interior ministry needed to send these out at least a month earlier,” Andreas Larsson, who was involved in the 1Bru 1Vote campaign last year, told Bruzz. “Recipients must have time to register if they haven’t already done so.”

According to Koen Schuyten of the ministry’s Population department, this was not the first letter than non-Belgians had received and was only a reminder. “We are aware that the letters to residents in Brussels-City and Anderlecht were sent too late,” he told the news site, “but these residents were already informed.”

Larsson, a Swedish national, also took issue with the letter’s language, which was in French or Dutch, depending on the resident’s registered preference. “I think that the letter could at least be in both languages, and, as it’s going to foreign nationals, an English version wouldn’t go amiss,” he said. “Only in French and too late: I just have the impression that ‘it had to be done because the EU says so, and so we’ve done it, although we didn’t care to’.”

While all EU citizens can vote in the European elections on 26 May, they cannot vote in Belgium’s federal or regional elections.

Photo: Getty Images

Written by Lisa Bradshaw


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