Very few people will have this happen to them: elections for the House of Representatives on their birthday. For Plant Breeding teacher Joost Baars, it is his second time. The first time occurred 17 years ago, on this eighteenth birthday, when he could put his newly acquired voting rights to use the very day he got them. This year, Baars’ birthday will once again be an extra celebration. His 35th birthday coincides with the elections, also known as a feast for democracy.
Baars is not the type of person to let a happy coincidence such as this slide. ‘On the day of my 18th birthday and the elections, my uncle volunteered at the voting station. He joked about it with other volunteers, saying that I should treat them if it happened again. And that is precisely what I intend to do this year’, he explains.
Baars plans to run a tour of all Wageningen election stations on the day of the elections, with a treat for all the volunteers to thank them and to show his appreciation for the work they put in. His first stop is the voting station in Forum. From there, he will go on to stop at each of the other twenty stations in Wageningen, a route of 13.5 kilometres in total. Baars will run alone if he must, but he hopes to get some company. ‘To celebrate democracy together. And with parties, it is a question of the more, the merrier.’
Everyone is welcome to join: students, PhDs, teachers, staff, researchers. Running, cycling, rollerblading or by any other means. ‘How you join doesn’t matter, as long as you join. In a similar way, I want to encourage people to vote, regardless of what party they vote for’, says Baars. Those who are not eligible to vote in the Netherlands but who favour democracy are also welcome. Those who wish can vote in one of the voting stations along the way, as Baars will do.
Those wanting to join: come to the rose on the field in front of Forum (see picture) at the start of the lunch break on election day, 22 November, no later than 13.10 hrs. Baars will depart at 13.15. The full tour is expected to take approximately 90 minutes.
The festive initiative also has a serious side. ‘There is a lot going on in the world about which I am worried’, Baars says. Aside from being a teacher at WUR, he also has two daughters. ‘Still, I remain optimistic. I consider that our moral duty. And I put my optimism to work. I use my vote, and I hope everyone will do the same.’