The Danish Electoral System

Members of the Danish Parliament are elected in general, direct and secret elections.

This means, for instance, that a voter must be able to cast his vote without anyone seeing it. This follows from section 31(1) of the Danish Constitutional Act. The same principles apply to elections to the European Parliament, local and regional elections and national referendums.

All people who are eligible to vote can cast their votes on election day. At the polling station, voters are handed a ballot paper on which party names/list names and names of candidates are printed. The voter casts his vote by marking the ballot paper with a cross without anyone seeing the vote cast. The ballot paper is then put in a ballot box. When the election is over, the polling officials count the votes. So the ballot is secret.

Ballots were open until 1901. On election day, the candidates gave public speeches and the voters assembled voted for their preferred candidate by a show of hands. The election committee then declared the candidate estimated to have received most votes the winner. If only one candidate was standing, the election was cancelled and the candidate was considered elected as a matter of course. This happened in about one third of the cases.


Blank and Other Void Votes 

After an election, a number of ballot papers normally turn out to be considered void for one reason or other. These will therefore not have any influence on election results.

A ballot paper is void if:

  • it is blank
  • if the voter’s vote on the ballot paper card is not marked with a cross
  • it is not certain which party or which candidate outside the parties the voter intended to vote for
  • it must be assumed that the ballot paper was not handed out at the polling station, or
  • the ballot paper has been given a distinctive mark

Even though a void vote has no influence on election results, the vote is included in the count of votes cast.

For instance, the total turnout in the general election on 13 November 2007 was 86.6%. The total number of votes cast was 3,483,533 of which 24,113 votes were void, or 0.7%. Of the void votes, 15,738 votes were blank, while 8,375 were void for other reasons.