Election2019: "My cows are bursting!"

It's election time!  Belgians are voting in the European, federal and regional elections on Sunday.  All the polling stations need to be manned and often this is a bit a drudgery because giving up your Sunday to help organise this festival of democracy isn't always popular.

Still reports from Flemish Brabant show that the search for polling station presidents and other citizen officials is going miraculously smoothly.  In the Vilvoorde district of Flemish Brabant Gilbert Putteman is in charge and has shared some of the excuses people come up with not to serve as a citizen official.

"It's above all the farmers in the Zemst area that come up with cock and bull stories: "My cows are bursting!  My cows are calving on Election Day!”  Another farmer says he needs to bring in the hay on that specific day "especially if the weather is fine".  Some people came up with the excuse they needed to attend mass."

An amazing number of people have booked cheap holidays that coincide with the election.

"Some people book after they have been invited to serve as an official.  It doesn't work like that!  There's also somebody who works for a removal company specialised in Sunday work.  Many people claim they can't read Dutch. It's not a problem.  It won't stop you standing at the entrance and pointing the way!"

Gilbert is surprised how smoothly the operation has gone this year despite the many communion parties and the students that need to cram for their exams.  In some places there are more people than needed, but not everywhere.

However, Flemish Brabant prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch intends to clamp down hard on false excuses.  People who don't have a valid excuse will be fined.  If you don't pay you will face a prosecution in the courts!