Danish polling stations provide safe way for voting in COVID times

The 2021 Danish local elections are unique in the way that precautions to prevent the spread of COVID are frequent with cases rising. 

By Jamie Szmitz

A sign outside of polling station at Vejlby-Risskov Hallen, Aarhus. Sign translates to “Entrance to polling station.”  Photographer: Jamie Szmitz

As Danish residents head to their local polling station, positive cases of COVID are also on the rise meaning more restrictions.  Just four days before the municipal and regional elections, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen reintroduced the coronapas.  Although the coronapas was not needed in the polling stations; masks, social distancing and hand wash was still observed in polling stations all over the country. 

The polling stations were open from 8:00 until 20:00 to all Danish residents, as well as EU/Norway/Iceland internationals and those who have lived in Denmark for over four years.  It is projected that 1 in 11 of the electorate are foreign residents. 

As well as precautions for those who would enter the buildings, there are also safety measures for vulnerable residents and those who are actually infected with COVID.  Every polling station has an option for outdoor voting, there they do not have to enter a confined area and can vote in a heavily ventilated area at a safe distance from others. 

For those who are actually infected, they can vote by contacting a volunteer at the station.  They will safely visit their car and give them a ballot paper, which the volunteer will add to the box on their behalf. 

Workers of the municipality who are working at the polling station in Vejlby-Risskov Hallen, Aarhus.  Photographer: Jamie Szmitz

The employee, seen on the right, told me that “the main purpose is to help people vote in the safest way possible.  Some voters may be worried about being exposed to the virus and that is why we are here.” 

Despite the measures, it is seen as democratic to allow residents without a coronapas to still be able to vote.  There have been efforts made by the Kommunes of regions to make sure democracy has been able to survive through the pandemic. 

Posters showing candidates for the Municipality of Aarhus.  Photographer: Jamie Szmitz

The campaigns still ran smoothly with campaigners still handing out flyers in the weeks before election day.  However, undoubtedly COVID has impacted the elections both when practically voting as well as what policies and points are being discussed between parties. 

Target Audience: International audience who may be interested in how democracy is practiced in other parts of Europe.

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