Belgian Princess Eleonore casts her vote at polling station during Belgian general, regional and European parliament elections in Laeken district of Brussels, Belgium, 09 June 2024. EPA-EFE/FREDERIC SIERAKOWSKI

News Vote 24

Brussels region: ‘teenagers wrongly given votes’


Voting in the Brussels region has been “completely chaotic”, according to Belgian Socialist Bert Anciaux.

On June 9, many of those queueing to cast their ballot had to wait for more than two hours, it was claimed.

Technical issues played a part but primarily the system seemed to have been snagged more by the numbers of 16 to 18-year-olds turning up – who are now allowed to vote in the Europe Parliament elections.

“Voting sometimes is no party,” New Flemish Alliance MP Anciaux noted, adding the situation was “completely chaotic”.

“I’ve already been waiting here for half an hour and it will probably take much longer,” Anciaux told Belgian public broadcaster VRT NWS. His Brussels colleague Ans Persoons said he had to wait an hour and 45 minutes.

Due to the problems, voters queuing before 4pm were given more time to cast their ballot.

The municipalities struggling most with the election procedures for younger voters were Evere, Laeken, Schaerbeek and Brussels city.

In Neder-Over-Hembeek and Woluwe-Saint-Lambert there were also issues regarding the computers dealing with the voting procedure.

Woluwe-Saint-Lambert Mayor Olivier Maingain of the DéFI party instructed the Red Cross to distribute water and chairs among the hundreds of waiting voters.

In his municipality, out of the 31 polling stations, approximately 10 electronic voting machines were reported to be malfunctioning.

While there were few problems elsewhere, the Minister of Interior Annelies Verlinden and others said the numbers of new young voters had proved challenging in some areas.

Although 16 to 18-year-olds were only supposed to vote for the European elections, the confusion meant that, in some cases, they also posted ballots in the national and regional elections in Belgium.

The scope and relevance of these incidents is as yet unknown but it is likely the issue will become clearer once polling stations close.

Official electoral witnesses from the political parties must record the events in the minutes that each polling station is required to provide following the votes. The primary counting bureaux will then aggregate the data from each electoral district to determine the total number of “extra” ballots cast.

If this numbers appear to be above what is expected and votes for certain seats are close, that could result in defeated politicians choosing to take to the courts.