In just a few months the number of non-Belgian voters doubled across Brussels, thanks largely to a few dozen volunteers, letters and online applications.
VoteBrussels estimates that 1/3 of new voters came from our campaign with non-partisan partners, another 1/3 from the work of the Brussels Region and another 1/3 from communal administrations and candidates.
The official statistics are out: in Brussels, the number of non-Belgians voters doubled to reach 49,406 in just 5 months. Back in March, nearly one-third of the total Brussels electorate – 250,000 residents (89% European Union citizens)—was not registered to vote. That means the registration rate has risen to 17%, an increase of 24% compared to the 2012 local elections.
49,406 voters–that’s enough to elect 54 city councilors and 11 aldermen across the 19 communes. Plus, each city council will need on average 36 more votes to get elected, so October’s elections will be more competitive and inclusive for everyone.
So why was 2018 so much successful than 2012? The Brussels authorities started at a disadvantage. Although non-Belgians could have registered at any time during the past six years, most communes did not start to inform or register them until June—two months before the deadline. In addition, striking disparities persist across the 19 communes because most communes did not do much more in 2018 than in 2012.
Those communes with the most active administrations and candidates – Bruxelles Ville, Etterbeek, Ixelles, Schaerbeek, Saint Gilles, Saint Josse – saw the greatest increases in their registration rates and numbers.
The big difference in 2018? For the 1st time, the Region, the European Commission and the Brussels Commissioner for Europe got involved and worked with VoteBrussels to adopt the most effective methods for voter registration:
1) Multilingual websites and letters sent to all potential voters and to all EU staff
2) Email applications accepted in 15 of the 19 communes
3) Funding for non-partisan volunteer networks like VoteBrussels and Objectif to answer any questions through face-to-face presentations and social media
If Brussels continues to use these effective methods over the next 6 years then, by the next elections, the majority of non-Belgians could be active participants and even voters in our local democracy. VoteBrussels will soon be publishing a Carte Blanche with its full evaluation and recommendations for voter registration.