Today is election day in Denmark. The Danes residing here will decide who should lead Denmark for the next four years. It is a great day for democracy, the day when people can exercise their democratic right to influence the society they wish to live in. A society better for people, better for the planet.
I have written before about my sadness that I cannot participate in this great democratic process because I am not currently a Danish citizen. When new Danish dual citizen laws commence on 1 September this year, I will be paying my 1,200 DDK fee to make my declaration that I am a Danish citizen. Then I will not only be able to vote if I reside in Denmark, I will be able to freely travel in and out of Denmark on an EU passport and I will regain my birthright as a Danish citizen.
Denmark has a unique way of keeping track of people, which is the envy of bureaucracies tied down by privacy rules, desperately trying to avoid double dipping or double handling of people’s details: The Central Person Register – or Folkeregister in Danish – a system established by law in 1924. The register is a Danish institution that registers all people born in Denmark with a Central Person Register (CPR) number consisting of six digits for their birth date plus three random digits and a control digit. If you come to Denmark to reside, you are also allocated a CPR number. This number is of crucial importance to your life in Denmark – it is you Open Sesame to everything to do with Danish bureaucracy. You use your number when visiting your doctor, paying your taxes, changing your address (done in one foul efficient sweep with automatic redirection to your new address), enrolling at university, taking books out at the library, getting a rejsekort (GoCard). It saves you from having multiple cards in your wallet and from remembering multiple random numbers that no-one else cares about, other than the particular part of bureaucracy you are trying to deal with. The number even lets you autofill your address through many commercial sites.
But things can go wrong. For all my rant and rave about feeling like a second class citizen and not being able to vote, Københavns Folkeregister kindly sent to me, to my registered address, a Valgkort – Election Card – inviting me to go to the nominated polling booth with the card to vote today.
For all the Danish efficiency and knowledge tied in to just one number, it seems Københavns Folkeregister made a mistake in not cross checking the data that should be against my number in their register: namely that I am a Danish citizen and therefore not entitled to vote. Perhaps the system just does not have capacity to cope with the situation where someone has relinquished their Danish citizenship and later returned to Denmark, suffering the humiliation of having to get permission to stay through family reunion with their EU citizen husband. I do admit it is odd.
Needless to say I will not take up the invite. It would be fraudulent of me to do so. But it is rewarding to think that I was invited to.
Happy election day!