Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The ballot system here...

The system here, in place since at 1811 (thanks to Napoleon) is for everyone to register at city hall in the town/area in which they live. This supplies answers to many needs, including census, and all is kept up to date. Each birth, death or moving into/away from the city/area is recorded. Each civil document is connected to this info: Wedding licences, drivers licenses etc. I just sent in my application for another 10 year extension of my residence permit (I'm not a Dutch citizen because of the complexities with the U.S. government, or I would hold dual citizenships). I had to go to city hall to get a document stating my address and family members, all kept up to date. This original document took 15 minutes to obtain, including waiting time in line (seated) and was printed out by computer. Cost €11.00, for which I pinned. Of course, I had to identify myself; my passport did this nicely. This is proof positive that I am who I say I am, and I live where I do, and with whom. This is a key bit of info, and proof, for my residence permit.

This same system is used to send out ballots. Pretty secure. Everyone has a ballot sent to them, together with voting info. Anyone may request and use an absentee ballot, and a fair amount of people do. All voting stations, typically schools and churches, are within 1 kilometer walking distance, so all are easily reachable by walking (except the rural areas).

BTW, because of this system, I could trace my family name and make the connection to the names they used before this. On 20 August 1811, my great, great, great grandfather established our family name permanently; it was taken from, but not at all the same as, the name of the farm on which they lived for over 100 years. I have a photocopy of that original entry, obtained from the provincial records. Before 1811, our family often used the name of the farm as their last name for some years, and more often, the patriarchal system. Thus, our family name was Duitlaar (farm name), Gerrits, Jansen, Willems, Hendriks, Alberts etc., all first names of male family members.