The lost right to vote due to deprivation of legal capacity

The authors T.S. and M.R., Danish nationals, were deprived of their legal capacity. As a result, they lost the right to vote. They instituted proceedings against the Danish interior ministry, arguing that they had been denied the right to vote in the 2015 parliamentary elections.

The High Court of Eastern Denmark dismissed the claims, finding that removing the right to vote from individuals that had been deprived of their legal capacity was consistent with the legislation over many years and legal commentary, and that Denmark’s international obligations did not affect that. The Supreme Court confirmed that decision, noting that the right to vote was not absolute.
A public debate ensued, culminating in legislative amendments aimed at restoring voting rights to some individuals who had lost them, without abolishing entirely the removal of legal capacity.
In 2019, the authors regained the right to vote in general elections.
Relying on Articles 3 of Protocol No. 1 (right to free elections) to the Convention and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination), the authors complained to the European Court of Human Rights that they had been illegally disenfranchised.
The authors argued that their disenfranchisement had been unjustified and arbitrary, questioning its compatibility with Denmark’s international obligations. The Government asserted that the restrictions had been proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued – ensuring voters had had the required level of mental skills, particularly, in contrast with other cases, as the restrictions had applied only to a small, specific group of people.
ECHR decided that there had been no violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 (right to free elections) to the European Convention on Human Rights, and no violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination). The Court found that the Danish authorities had assessed and evolved the legal response to situations like the applicants’ and that the applicants had not been treated in a disproportionate manner, concluding that there had been no violation of their rights.

21. November 2023

HUDOC 27338-18
  • Decision: 2 Februar 2021
  • Comm: HUDOC