Multilingual voting instructions debated at City Hall

Deputy mayors disagree about whether to translate general election information

To vote in last week’s election required a Danish passport, but should the democratic process also be reserved for those who can find their way around a Danish dictionary? This is a question dividing two of Copenhagen’s deputy mayors, DR reports.

READ MORE: Experts concerned that foreigners feel excluded during the Danish general election

Anna Mee Allerslev, the Radikale deputy mayor for integration, and Carl Christian Ebbesen of DF, the deputy mayor for culture and leisure, disagree about whether voting instructions in the election should have been available in languages other than Danish.

Allerslev contends there is a clear correlation between the lack of instructions in any other language and the low turnout in areas such as Bispebjerg, where 7 percent fewer voters made it to the polls than the national average.

“Given that we have made such good voting instructions in Danish, I think it’s unfortunate we didn’t take the trouble to translate it into at least English, and also other languages,” she said.

Instruction or integration?
Ebbesen, who was responsible for the election preparations, is of the opposite opinion.

“The people who vote in a general election should be able to speak Danish and pass a Danish test in order to even become a Danish citizen and get the right to vote,” he said.

“So at a general election it makes no sense to give instructions in any language other than Danish. Anything else would be a waste of money.”

Ebbesen has his own explanation for the low turnout in certain areas.

“I must note that the low turnout in some areas might have more to do with lacking integration in these areas than it has to do with information about the election,” he stated.