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Danish local elections: Covid-19 safety measures to be used on polling day

Authorities in Denmark on Monday confirmed a number of safety measures related to the Covid-19 pandemic will be in place when the country goes to the polls in local elections on Tuesday.

Hand sanitizer, social distancing and outside polling booths will all be features of tomorrow’s municipal and regional elections in Denmark.
Hand sanitizer, social distancing and outside polling booths will all be features of tomorrow’s municipal and regional elections in Denmark. File photo: Claus Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark is currently in the midst of a steep wave of new cases of Covid-19, with over 2,000 new cases registered during the last 11 consecutive says and close to 350 people currently admitted to hospital with the virus.

Hand sanitizer, social distancing and outside polling booths will all be features of tomorrow’s municipal and regional elections in an effort to keep turnout high despite the concerning Covid-19 curve, authorities said at a briefing on Monday.

“Municipalities are extremely well prepared and almost all voters are vaccinated. It’s therefore safe and secure to vote tomorrow,” interior minister Kaare Dybvad said at Monday’s briefing, as reported by broadcaster DR.

“In Norway they had a (general) election earlier this year with significantly more restrictions and you could see a small drop in turnout,” the minister noted.

“There’s no reason to be worried about going out and voting but there may be a small drop. We have no estimate of what to expect,” he added.

Over 400,000 foreign residents in Denmark are eligible to vote in the elections.

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The exact provisions in place at individual polling stations are determined by the local municipalities.

In general, local authorities are advised to ensure good distancing between voters, liberal use of hand sanitizer and use of outdoors space.

Voters will be allowed to bring their own pens to fill out ballot papers, in a first for Danish elections.

People who are infected with coronavirus are allowed to vote and are not required to present a valid coronapas, in line with the Danish constitution which ensures everyone who is eligible be allowed to vote.

Those currently infected with Covid-19 are instructed not to enter polling stations but to call a telephone number which will be provided outside of the voting location, broadcaster TV2 reports. Staff wearing PPE will then assist, allowing votes to be cast. This can be done from inside of a car or at an outside voting box.

“I cannot stand here and guarantee that infections won’t occur in connection with the elections. That’s also the case for many other societal activities. But (the elections) can be undertaken safely and properly in relation to the epidemic,” Danish Health Authority director Søren Brostrøm said.

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REFERENDUMS

Poll suggests Danes ready to scrap EU opt-out in referendum

A new poll indicates a majority of Danes is in favour of scrapping the country’s EU defence opt-out in an upcoming referendum.

Poll suggests Danes ready to scrap EU opt-out in referendum

The poll, conducted by Epinion on behalf of broadcaster DR, shows 38 percent of voters in favour of revoking the opt-out, compared with 27 percent who want to retain it.

28 percent said they do not know how they will vote, meaning there is still plenty of potential for both a “yes” and “no” outcome in the June 1st vote.

An earlier poll, conducted in March, put the two sides closer, with 38 percent of eligible voters then saying they would vote ‘yes’ to scrapping the opt-out, with 31 percent saying they would vote ‘no’ and 31 percent saying they didn’t know.

The government announced in March a June 1st referendum in which citizens will decide whether to overturn Denmark’s opt-out from EU defence policy. The referendum was called following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Denmark’s opt-out – retsforbehold in Danish – is one of four EU special arrangements negotiated by the Scandinavian country, and has seen it abstain from participation in EU military operations and from providing support or supplies to EU-led defence efforts.

READ ALSO: Why does Denmark have four EU ‘opt-outs’ and what do they mean?

In April, the wording of the question on voting ballots for the referendum was changed, following objections from politicians opposed to scrapping the opt-out.

According to a breakdown of the new poll, younger voters and women are the most undecided groups. 20 percent of men said they were unsure how to vote compared to 38 percent of women.

Among 18-34 year-olds, 39 percent were unsure how they would vote compared to 22 percent of voters over the age of 56 who have yet to decide how to cast their votes.

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