Friday

24th Feb 2017

Focus

Thousands able to vote twice in EU elections

  • Around 8 million EU citizens live in a member state other than their own (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The Swedish election board in Solna should have received a complete data file of Swedish citizens voting in Denmark by 28 April the latest.

It did not arrive.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"We must have access to this data 30 days before the day of election to be able to make up our register of electors in time," Hanns Lejsater, an official at the election authority, told Swedish paper Goteborgs-Posten.

Data technician Lars Siljedahl says the authority received some data from Denmark but the last batch only arrived on 15 May – too late.

Nicoline Miller, chief election consultant at the Danish interior ministry, last week said Copenhagen would send data to other member states informing them of which of their nationals were registered for voting in Denmark.

She said the information would be sent "any day soon". It was unclear whether this would be too late.

But the Danes are not the only sinners.

The Swedish election board is missing data about possible double voters from 10 EU countries, mostly the newest members of the EU but also Denmark and the UK.

"In the UK they don't have a central election system, and we can't use the manually picked data we get from them in any way," said technician Lars Siljedahl.

He added that only a third of the data received from other countries is machine readable – that with a correct reference to voters' Swedish ID codes.

Sweden has sent data about some 49,000 cross border EU-citizens to other member states – after the Swedish electoral registers were settled.

"As the countries have different election rules and deadlines our data might also have come too late. This is difficult to administer and we are not really happy with the way this is handled," Siljedahl said.

What then happens to citizens who vote in two member states?

"I can only say that when you applied to be able to vote in Denmark you took an oath only to vote in Denmark," said the Danish interior ministry's Miller in an email.

"In the application you signed it said the sanction for fraud is a fine or imprisonment for four months."

Hanns Lejsäter at the Swedish election board says: "Nothing will really happen. It is forbidden to vote more than once, but not all breaches of law can be sanctioned. In order to do that we would need some kind of at central election board for the whole of EU."

The issue of double voting in the EU election has also been raised in other EU countries.

Dutch paper Algemeen Dagblad recently ran a story on how some 157,000 voters received election cards both from their local authorities in the Netherlands and from their EU countries of origin.

"It's a strange situation that someone can vote twice although it is not allowed. This can be sanctioned with jail or a fine of €4000," Dutch interior minister Ronald Pasterek told NOS TV.

"I've tried to raise this issue with EU colleagues, but they were not interested. Now I will raise the issue again. But it is difficult to disclose who has voted in two countries without tampering with the secrecy of voting," he added.

According to estimates by the European Commission about 8 million EU citizens live in a member state other than their own.

The right to vote in local and EP elections in other member states was introduced in 1993.

It is unknown how many European voters have received more than one voting card.

Markus Bonekamp, head of the European Parliament's information office in Stockholm, says he has not heard of double voters before, but does not believe they will pose a big problem.

"The major problem has been to get people to vote in the first place, not people voting twice," he says.

EU elections under way in Netherlands and UK

The 2014 EU elections got under way in The Netherlands and in the UK on Thursday, with Dutch voters starting at 7.30am local time and British voters at 8am British time.

EU turnout nearly unchanged from 2009

A 0.09 percent increase in the turnout compared to the last EU elections has been celebrated as 'historic', but some experts see a link to the strong anti-establishment vote in many countries.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court jails former IMF chief Rato
  2. Macron proposes Nordic-style economic model for France
  3. Germany posts record high budget surplus
  4. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  5. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  6. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  7. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  8. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EURORDISJoin the Rare Disease Day and Help to Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  4. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  5. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  6. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  7. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  9. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations