Being an EU citizen living in Denmark I get the right to vote in local elections (though not national elections) as soon as I get registered here. I really believe that if you get the opportunity to vote you should, as this is one of the (few) ways you can get your voice heard. Useless complaining afterwards if you didn’t bother to make an effort to vote in the first place.
Updating my Political Knowledge
I am used to a mainly 2-party system, so getting my head around all the different parties and all the different politicians was a bit overwhelming at first. I tried to read up, though most information was available only in Danish (and maybe in German). Luckily, the university organised a debate in English, so I took the opportunity to learn a bit about the parties represented there. Slowly I started to separate the parties out. I’m nowhere near clear what all the different parties stand for, but I have a much better grip on it than I did a few months ago. Watching Borgen and Michael telling me how real-life parties are similar to Borgen-parties also helped!
We arrived at the polling station (the library) and was surprised to see a bit of a queue forming. Where I normally vote there are maybe 2-3 people maximum in front of me. Here there were around 20-25. Voting was held in a big room, with around 10-15 polling booths, unlike the 3 I am used to. Therefore, the queue moved quickly (less than 5 minute wait).
I was quite surprised a the informality of it all. There was no ‘proving of identity’. Since I wasn’t sure what was needed I took my driving license, my national ID card, and my passport – just in case. But they only asked me for my date of birth. It could have very easily have been someone else with my voting document as there was no picture. Didn’t feel that was very secure, but if it works and speeds things up, I will trust in their judgement. Another thing was that, unlike in Malta where you only enter the polling booth room when there is an empty polling booth, here you are given the voting document and then wait till a polling booth gets empty, when it becomes a free for all: whoever gets to the polling booth first gets to go in :D.
Another surprise was the length of the ballot. Having 17 parties for the local council election, with many candidates on each list, the ballot was LONG. Once you get the document and grab a polling booth you then get to vote. Having seen the length of the ballot, the tinyness of the tables on which to vote was, however, quite comical!
How do I vote?
Once we got to the queue I realised that there must be a lot I didn’t know about what to do in the polling booth itself! In Malta there is always an information campaign telling us what needs to be done. I didn’t come across anything here. To be honest, the system here is much easier: You only get to vote for one person or party, and you just mark it with an ‘X’.
I am used to elections on a Saturday, where I spend the day listening to election news and keeping track of what is going on. Election being held on a work day meant that I missed out on this part, so it was only after work that I could keep myself updated by the progress.
Counted was completed for Sønderborg kommune around 11:15 pm, so that is around 3 hrs after polling booths were closed. We now have a Social Democrat mayor, which is a change from the Fælleslisten mayor we had after the previous election. The complete list of elected candidates can be found here.