A flyer circulated by the Dutch Consulate General in Atlanta.

The Netherlands Consulate General in Atlanta is encouraging Dutch citizens in the Southeast U.S. to register to vote in March elections that could represent a major political reorganization in the country.  

Dutch nationals in the region must register online as “Dutch voter abroad” by Feb. 3 to participate, Consul General Ard Van der Vorst reminded his followers in a LinkedIn post last week.  

Ard van der Vorst

After registration, they will automatically receive the information necessary to vote with their local consulate or embassy around the world.  

The March 17 parliamentary elections are set to be particularly consequential: The entire Dutch cabinet including Prime Minister Mark Rutte resigned last week over its role in wrongly accusing thousands of families of child welfare fraud, but most members remained in power in a caretaker capacity and are not expected to leave before elections take place.  

Atlanta consulates are well-known for their role in providing passports, visas and other documents for their nationals in the Southeast U.S. They also handle matters related to the incarceration of their compatriots. But the consulates’ role as outposts where expats can exercise their democratic rights back home has been explored less frequently.  

In 2017, the French consulate in Atlanta expected more than 2,000 voters to turn out in the final round of between Emmanuel Macron and right-wing National Front Leader Marine Le Pen. It set up posters of the two remaining candidates and ballot boxes, both at the consulate in Buckhead as well as in cities around the South where honorary consuls were tasked with collecting the paper ballots.  

The results sometimes offer insights about divergence in views between the expatriate community and back home, as when candidate Aecio Neves won 54 percent of the 2,144 votes cast at the Atlanta consulate in 2014, compared to just 8.4 percent for incumbent Dilma Rousseff, a favorite of the working class. Ms. Rousseff would go on to win the election, before being impeached and removed from office in 2016. 

The Dutch consulate was recently tasked with the responsibility of leading the agenda for the European consulates in Atlanta, representing the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union. Mr. Van der Vorst took the baton from German Consul General Heike Fuller.  

Dutch nationals can learn more about how to register to vote here.  

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...