Hundreds of expat and foreign-born voters could find themselves unable to vote in local elections in Brussels Sunday after an administrative mishap.
While some may already have discovered the registration problem, many of the disenfranchised voters may only find out they are not registered when they go to the polls in commune elections across the Brussels region.
The registration issue, which required the intervention of the federal government earlier this year, has taken the shine off a major campaign to encourage more non-Belgian voters to register that managed to double sign ups by foreigners.
“We’re very sad this happened,” said Hélène Herman, communication officer at the Brussels Region’s unit assisting communes in the election process. “We’ll surely make sure this doesn’t happen again [in the next election],” she added.
According to figures from the Brussels Institute for Statistics and Analysis, 23 percent of Brussels’ residents are non-Belgian EU nationals, and another 12 percent are non-EU nationals. A large chunk of them is eligible to vote and in some communes the proportion of foreign residents is close to 50 percent.