“Once out, you are forgotten,” the Dutch in Canada voice their annoyance in voting from abroad

Austin Devaraj, Sage Bankasingh

March. 18, 2021

TORONTO – As Dutch citizens took to the polls this week, which have been spread apart intentionally into multiple days, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, expatriates are looking to voice their concerns about voting in the motherland.

Dutch residents in Canada who hold citizenship in the Netherlands note complexities in communication present to them while trying to vote.

Richard Braeken, from Toronto, says there were no reminders made to citizens who he says will need to register once again to vote in this year’s elections.

“Regarding the voting process, I think my vote should count 3 times given the effort I had to put in,” said Braeken. He’s lived in the country for 25 years.

Some residents, like Martine Puts, claim to have never received a ballot to vote.

Rob van der Sluis, 60, who now lives in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, has been out of the Netherlands for 20 years but remains a Dutch citizen.

Van der Sluis notes on many occasions, he’s felt like a nobody.

“Once out, you are forgotten,” said Van der Sluis

The sentiment is echoed by Canadians who say they are not eligible for dual nationality with the Netherlands.

“The parliament has dual citizens as members, but I cannot have dual citizenship, bit of a double standard isn’t it?” said Paula Verlegh. She’s lived in Canada since 1974 and never became a Canadian citizen because the Dutch government doesn’t allow for it.

The Netherlands does not exercise dual citizenship freely. Only in certain cases like in marriage or if the applicant is a former refugee is the process valid.

“As a rule, you will lose your Dutch nationality if you voluntarily acquire another nationality,” reads the Dutch government’s page on loss of citizenship.

In comparison, Canadian citizens do not automatically lose their citizenship when applying for a different nationality even if the new country’s regulations deem so.

In such a case, the Canadian citizen would technically have to renounce their citizenship by application to be deemed no longer a citizen.

“I’ve only voted the first year I was here, after that I’ve never seen any correspondence from the Netherlands,” said Marielle Helena Sophia who’s lived in Canada for 12 years.

Incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte is being predicted to win and will be heading into this fourth term once elected.