A foreigner’s guide to voting in the local elections

The Copenhagen Post’s ‘Voting for Dummies’ will get you ready for November 19

Although only Danish citizens can vote in the parliamentary elections, next month’s local elections are different. Foreigners holding a permanent resident permit can also vote at the local level, thus giving them a say in who should get a seat on the governing boards of Denmark’s 98 councils and five regions.

Voting in Denmark is not mandatory like in some other countries, but if you qualify to have a say in deciding who should be in charge of your local government, it would be a shame to stay home when the voting booths open on November 19.

What follows is The Copenhagen Post’s guide to who can vote and how it is done.

How to see if you can vote
If you are at least 18 years old and have your permanent home address in Denmark, you may be able to vote in the particular council and region you live in (for example, the inhabitants of the city vote for in the Copenhagen City Council and Region Hovedstaden elections).

If you are a citizen of the Nordic countries or a citizen from another EU country, you can vote no matter how long you have lived in the country.

For foreigners who come from a country outside the EU, you can still vote if you have lived within the Kingdom of Denmark (that includes Greenland and the Faroe Islands) for three years prior to the election date on November 19. That means that if you came here from the US, for example, and officially became a resident before 19 November 2010, you are automatically a registered voter.

Get a polling card
Being a registered voter means your name and address is on the national electoral register – a list of voters who will automatically receive a polling card (valgkort) in the post five days before the election date, which always falls on the third Tuesday of November every fourth year.

If your local council should fail to deliver a card to your home address, you can contact your nearest residents’ service office (borgerservice). In Copenhagen, there are three borgerservice centres: one in the city centre, one in Sundby and one in Bispebjerg.

The polling card will inform you where the voting takes place. The polling stations are usually located in public institutions like schools and sports halls. At the polling station, you will be given two ballots: one for the council election and one for the regional election. Each ballot contains a full list of the candidates in your area. Be sure to bring some photo ID like your passport or driving licence to the station, so that even if you lose your voting card, you may still be able to vote.

Behind the curtains of the voting booth, you will mark your ballot. You can choose to vote for an individual candidate or a political party.

Vote by post
If for some reason you are unable to show up at the assigned polling location, you are still able to vote either through the post or by visiting another postal voting station. This is an option for people who have their permanent address in Denmark but are working or travelling in another country on the election date. This option is also available to those who are unable to leave their homes for medical reasons. You need to apply to the citizen service centre for a mail-in ballot at least three weeks in advance, and you will then receive the official voting papers.

It is already possible to vote in advance, and you can even change your vote as many times as you want until November 16, four days before the election date, but you can’t vote electronically.

Who to vote for
The full list of candidates for your local council and region will be available at the polling stations from October 28, and will also be published on your council’s website.

To familarise voters with parties’ stances on issues that are of particular interest to the international community, The Copenhagen Post will be profiling all of the political parties and interviewing some of the candidates in the lead-up to the election.

For all the news and background you need to make an informed choice on November 19 you can visit the Local Elections 13 section of our website

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