The Constitution states the franchise requirements as:
(1) Danish citizenship, (2) permanent residence in the realm, and (3) the
voting age prescribed by law (18, since 1978). Furthermore, a prospective
voter must not have been declared legally incompetent.
The residence requirement has since 1970 been construed
to the effect that employees of the Danish state working abroad fulfil the
residence requirement. Furthermore, since 1980 the requirement has also been
construed in such a way that employees of Danish private companies working
abroad, people working in international organisations of which Denmark is
a member, or Danish aid or relief organisations, students studying abroad,
or people living abroad for health reasons - as well as their spouses - are
all considered to have fulfilled the residence requirement, provided that
their stay abroad is not permanent. [ According to the practice of a special
board ("the Franchise Board"), this means less than 12-13 years. ]
The residence requirement of the Constitution does not
allow the extension of franchise to all Danes living abroad.
It is a prerequisite for voting that the prospective
voter is registered in the electoral register (the voters list). The
computerized electoral register is based on information already available
in the national civil registration system (also administered by the Ministry
of the Interior), to which the municipal authorities continuously convey
basic, administratively relevant information about citizens, including the
acquisition of voting rights, changes of address, and death. Thus, inclusion
on the electoral register - and changes due to change of residence, etc.
- takes place automatically and continuously. As a result, the register is
permanently updated, and only people living abroad, i.e. the various groups
mentioned above, have to take the initiative. They have to send a request
to be on the register to the municipality where they were permanent residents
before going abroad.
A printout of the permanently updated, computerized electoral
register is made, with 18 days prior to an election as the reference day.
Prospective voters who move to the country after this date cannot be included
in the register before election day and are therefore not allowed to vote.
Persons who move to another municipality less than 18 days before a general
election remain on the electoral register of the initial municipality until
after election day. Changes in the electoral register because of (1) emigration,
(2) death, (3) issue (or withdrawal) of declarations of legal incompetence,
and (4) people losing or obtaining Danish citizenship, which are reported
to the local authorities less than 18 days before an election, are entered
manually in the electoral register printout.
The electoral register is not published for inspection
and it is not accessible either for the public in general, or for the political
One week prior to polling day, the municipal authorities
send all voters a poll card to be used in connection with polling. The cards
have to be delivered to voters not later than five days before election day.
Through nationwide advertisements in newspapers ten days before election
day the Ministry of the Interior tries to attract the attention of voters
to inform them about the distribution of poll cards. The advertisements also
inform voters who do not receive a poll card of how to complain to the relevant
municipal authorities. In this way, erroneous omissions from the electoral
register can be corrected. Poll cards are not sent to voters abroad.
The poll card is printed on the basis of the electoral
register. It contains the following items: the voters name and address,
his/her serial number in the electoral register, the location of the
voters polling station, the date of the election, and the opening hours
of the polling station. These items correspond to those of the electoral
register, apart from the voters birthday, which is not printed on the
The above description mentions that some Danish citizens
living abroad are allowed to participate in general elections (and elections
to the European Parliament and referendums as well). At the September 1994
election, 6,172 voters (0.2 per cent of the total electorate) were living
abroad. Foreign citizens living in Denmark, on the other hand, are not allowed
to participate in general elections. Furthermore, the Constitutional requirement
of citizenship prevents changing this part of the parliamentary election
contrast, the municipal election law
bestows voting rights (and the right to stand as a candidate) not only to
Danish citizens resident in the municipality in question [ Or county, when
election to county councils are concerned.] but also to foreign citizens
on the additional condition that they have been resident in the realm for
three years prior to election day. At the November 1993 local elections,
97,694 voters (2.4 per cent of the total electorate) were foreign citizens.
In March 1995 the municipal election law was changed to the effect that starting
from the next local elections (i.e., in 1997) citizens from the other countries
in the European Union as well as citizens from the other Nordic countries
will enjoy voting rights and the right to stand as candidates on the same
basis as Danish citizens (i.e., without the 3-year residence requirement).
Foreign citizens from other countries will, however, remain subject to the
3-year residence requirement.
Danish citizens living in any EU country as well as citizens
from the other EU countries resident in Denmark have voting rights in the
quinquennial elections to the European Parliament. All EU citizens can also
stand as candidates. Since Greenland and the Faroe Islands are not part of
the European Union, their inhabitants do not possess voting rights in these