Expats in Brussels urged to register for municipal elections

One in three residents in Brussels are not Belgian and,in some areas of the city, it is almost half.

But up to 285,000 in Brussels could vote in the 2024 municipal elections which are important as they dictate how local policies are enforced in the coming years.

Now a campaign has been started to help encourage international residents to register and then go out and vote in the elections in October.

A group called Restless Brussels is organising an all day voter registration drive on July 4 to register international residents to vote in the October communal elections.

A spokesman said, “We need volunteers to give some time to help us register people at key moments. You’ll get flyers, stickers, posters, scripts and whatever else you need to help you persuade people to vote.”

“We are hitting hotspots across the EU Quarter (Place Luxembourg, Schuman, Arts-Loi, etc.).”

Success of the drive, he said, depends on how many volunteers sign up.

“We will be out at key moments in the morning (8h-10h), lunchtime (12h-14h) and evening (17h30-19h30).

“We are collaborating with different organisations on this – commissioner.brussels, VoteBrussels, Stand Up For Europe.”

The message is: If you are in an organisation that would like to take part,get in touch.

Municipal elections for the communes/gemeente take place on Sunday 13 October. Almost all International Brusselers can vote but they ensure they sign up by 31 July.

In the previous municipal elections, more “international Brusselers” voted than ever before.

But the spokesman said, “We still only reached 17%, but research shows that more people would vote if they got the right information.

“If you voted in the 2018 municipal elections, you do not need to sign up again. But voting in the EU elections does not mean you’re signed up for the municipal elections – it’s a separate list.”

“If you want to vote, you need to sign up before 31 July.”

“International Brusselers are often confused about the impact of signing up to vote, and a few common myths are circulating. It is important to make sure you know the truth, and share this information with the people around you.”

The group says the key points include:

1. Voting matters: The local level of Belgian politics has a big impact on streets, everyday lives and vital services. If all International Brusselers voted, they would play a big role in choosing leaders and policies, it is said.

2. No hidden consequences: Signing up to vote will not affect residency,taxes, salary, or right to vote back in someone’s home country.”It is just an extra opportunity to have your say,” says the group.

3. Obligatory voting is not scary: If you sign up, you will be expected to vote, but people need not be worried about fines or punishments. Proxy voting is available if you need to travel or get ill. You can also ask to be removed from the list if you decide you don’t want to vote next time.

Most people can sign up online – inscription.elections.fgov.be

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