Sunday is local elections polling day!

On 14 October Belgians aged 18 or more enjoying their full political rights and foreigners who have registered on the electoral list vote in the local elections.  They will elect new local and provincial councils that will work for the next six years.

If you are on the electoral register, by law you are obliged to attend a polling station.  If you stay away, you need a valid reason.  Fail to turn up or to give somebody else your power of attorney and you may be reprimanded by a judge or obliged to pay an 80 euro fine.  Ignore several elections and the fine could total 200 euros.  In the end you could lose your place on the electoral list and miss out on promotions in a government job.

Come to the polling station armed with your ID card and your invitation to vote.  People who are ill, abroad or working can vote by proxy, but you will need the right paperwork.

In over half of all municipalities in Flanders voting happens by computer.  In Wallonia  there's been a return to pencil and paper ballots in some places out of concerns about the expense of computers and reliability.

To cast a valid vote, vote for an entire list: indicate next to the name of the list or party.  This means you agree with the order of candidates on the list.  You can vote for one or more candidates on the same list to show you support their candidacy.  As a result they may move up the list and stand a greater chance of being elected.  You MUST stick to candidates on one and the same list! Otherwise your vote becomes spoiled.  If you are voting for a provincial council (only outside Brussels!) and a municipal council, you can of course choose different parties for each vote.

If you wish to spoil your paper ballot, tear it or write on it.  You can cast a blank ballot by not filling anything in on a ballot paper or by indicating the blanco box in computer voting.

Votes are anonymous and secret, but you probably won't be prosecuted if you take a selfie showing who you voted for.  Legal experts say others are not allowed to reveal who you voted for, but you can!

In Flanders polling stations open at 8AM and stay open till 1PM if you're voting on paper, until 3PM if it's by computer. 

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