Voters warned not to take “stemfies” in polling booth


In the week before the “mother of all elections”, voters are scrambling to find their summonses, warned against asking for sick notes and forbidden from taking selfies

Doctors also warn against fake sick notes

Voters in Belgium are being warned not to use their smartphones to take a selfie, or in this case, a “stemfie”, in the polling booth this Sunday. Anyone found taking or posting a photo showing how they voted risks a fine of up to €3,000, according to Brussels’ information technology minister, Brigitte Grouwels.

Under Belgian law, voting has to be done in secret. “No one is allowed to see how you vote,” explained Grouwels. “It’s a crime, so the police can prosecute you.”

She added that it was a bad idea, in any case, to tell the internet how you voted. “You shouldn’t forget that anything you post on the internet will still be there 50 years from now. So if you vote for one party when you are young, and later realise that you have made a mistake, someone can use the photograph against you.”

In other elections news, more than 10,000 voters have lost or claim to have not received their voting summons, which has to be presented at the polling station in order to vote. Municipalities have already sent out hundreds of replacement letters, but it is now too late, so voters will have to visit their town halls to pick up the document.

A spokesperson for municipal councils said that many people have thrown away their letters because they mistake them for the increasing volume of campaign materials.

Finally, Flanders’ Order of Medical Doctors have asked elections staff to file an official complaint with them if they suspect that any doctor has written up a fake sick note to get people out of helping at the polling station. Every year, thousands across Flanders are called on to help at stations on election day and use all manner of excuses to get out of doing it, such as pretending to be sick or even, as was reported in the news last week, buying cheap airline tickets they don’t intend to use to prove they are out of town.

“Anyone can file a complaint with us,” said Georges Albertyn of the organisation, “including chairs of polling places.”

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