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Letter of Invitation to First-Time Voters Urging Them to Vote (DK0036)



Action Plan: Denmark Action Plan 2013-2014

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status: Inactive


Lead Institution: NA

Support Institution(s): Copenhagen University

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption, Marginalized Communities, Political Integrity, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Denmark End-of-Term Report 2014-2016, Denmark IRM Progress Report 2014-2015

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i



Prior to the forthcoming local and regional elections in November, a letter of invitation will be sent to some of the first-time voters in these elections. The letter will provide information about the elections and urge the new voters to cast their vote.
Subsequently, the effect of this effort will be analysed as part of an election turnout project at Copenhagen University with a view to assessing how the message has affected the first-time voters.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 2 and 3: Advance voting and First-time voters

2. Call on all municipalities to facilitate advance voting

With a view to encouraging many young first-time voters to use their right to vote, a letter has been circulated to mayors throughout the country urging them to make it possible to vote in advance at e.g. educational establishments and in other places that are frequented by young people and other citizens on a daily basis.

The intention has been to make the option of advance voting more visible and accessible for citizens in the hope that it will have a positive impact on turnout.

Responsible Institution: None specified

Supporting Institutions: None specified

Start Date: Not specified.......                                     End Date: Not specified

3. Letter of invitation to first-time voters urging them to vote

Prior to the forthcoming local and regional elections in November 2013, a letter of invitation will be sent to some of the first-time voters in these elections. The letter will provide information about the elections and urge the new voters to cast their vote.

Subsequently, the effect of this effort will be analysed as part of an election turnout project at Copenhagen University with a view to assessing how the message has affected the first-time voters.

Responsible Institution: None specified

Supporting Institutions: Copenhagen University

Start Date: Not specified.......                                     End Date: Not specified

Commitment Aim:

Currently, individual municipalities are responsible for promoting civic engagement - some local governments give it a higher priority than others.  In a bid to address declining voter turn-out for regional government elections (Commitment #2), the Danish government circulated a letter among mayors, urging them to allow for early voting due to the volatility of the first-time voter demographic.[Note 3: Electoral turnout for young people peaks immediately after

their enfranchisement, then falls sharply,]

To fulfill the same goals, Commitment 3 entailed sending a letter to 100 000 randomly selected first-time voters encouraging them to participate in the 2013 regional government elections. 


This commitment was complete at mid-term

According to the mid-term self-assessment, many municipalities accepted the call and organized advanced voting by postal vote at institutions for education, local libraries, and other public institutions.

The government published two reports in June 2014, with detail regarding the execution of this commitment and samples of the letters distributed. For further information, please see the IRM mid-term progress report[Note 4: Denmark IRM mid-term report 2014-15,].

Did it open government?

Commitment 2

Civic participation: Marginal

Following the commitment implementation, two research reports[Note 5: Centre for Voting and Parties, Hvem Stemte Og Hvem Blev Hjemme? [Who Voted and Who Stayed Home?] by Yosef Bhatti, Jens Olav Dahigaard, Jonas Hedegaard Hansen, and Kasper Møller Hansen (Report, Copenhagen, 2014), 52, [Danish]] from Copenhagen University showed a 10 percent increase in young voter turnout - however, the reports also found that there was a substantial drop in voter turnout among citizens who are not ethnically Danish. Participation of the latter demographic was already lower than average. The reports thus indicate that the commitment had a positive effect in terms of increasing voter turnout among young people, but only for one subset of the target demographic.  As they are based on registration data from Statistics Denmark, the reports do not address the question of why some voters stayed at home.

Commitment 3

Civic participation: Did not change

Commitment 3 aims to increase voter turnout in local elections by sending a letter to 100 000 first-time voters, urging them to vote. A Copenhagen University analysis of the effect of this measure on voter turnout concluded that the letter increased participation of first time voters. [Note 6: Center for Voting and Parties, Kan Man Øge Valgdeltagelsen? [Is it possible to increase voter participation?] by Yosef Bhatti, Jens Olav Dahlgaard, Jonas Hedegaard Hansen, and Kasper Møller Hansen (Report, Copenhagen, 2014),]

In both commitments, the IRM researcher did not find evidence to suggest that systematic approaches were taken to promote participation in electoral process outside these two very specific one-off activities. Also, no local election has been held since the midterm report, resulting in the commitments being evaluated as “did not change.”

Carried forward?

Given that Denmark has not yet developed a third national action plan, it is uncertain whether this commitment will be carried forward in the form of similar letters before future regional elections. As evidenced by the survey performed by the IRM researcher in Denmark’s midterm report,[Note 7: Denmark IRM mid-term report 2014-15, ] stakeholders call for these commitments to be included in future action plans. If they are, the IRM researcher recommends taking steps to reach non-ethnic Danish voters. Moreover, the subsequent analyses of the effectiveness of the letters in terms of increasing voter turnout should attempt to go beyond mere statistical results to investigate the motivation behind voter turnout behavior via e.g. surveys and qualitative interviews.


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