What you need to know about electoral chaos in Berlin

Chaotic elections, disastrous elections – there are different descriptions of what happened on September 24 last year. Malfunctions in elections to the Lower House and the Bundestag were so widespread and at times so serious that new elections could no longer be ruled out. This is the current status:

Should the elections be repeated?

This has not yet been decided. The Constitutional Court of the State of Berlin is currently examining 15 objections to the elections to the 19th lower house and county councils. For this, the court requested minutes from the electoral boards for 2,257 polling stations, many of them incomplete and some of them not signed. In addition, the court asked the state’s return authority to provide a detailed statement, which was received there last week.

At the end of September, the court intends to schedule an oral hearing on the procedures for the election examination. If we come to the conclusion that re-elections to the House of Representatives and the Departments must be re-elected, it will not be possible until next year.

What exactly went wrong?

A large number of voters were unable to exercise their right to vote. There were various reasons for this: in some polling stations there were no slips for the first vote, in others there were no slips for the second vote.

W: Although the number of polling stations was a third higher than last time due to the pandemic, the number of polling booths was not enough for many eligible voters. The estimated average time of three minutes each was too short. Because this time it was not a question of voting for the Bundestag or the Chamber of Deputies, but of both, including the provincial parliaments and the referendum. So there were a lot of ballot papers to be marked.

Another problem: Ballot papers were too few at many polling stations. As a result, the electoral process sometimes had to be interrupted for a long time. The provision of ballot papers was severely hampered by the closure of many streets due to the Berlin Marathon that was held that day.

This led to long queues. It is reported that waiting times were up to two hours on different occasions. Many eligible voters returned home and resigned.

How many polling stations were still open after 6 pm?

According to the current return officer’s statement, 255 of 2,257 polling stations — about 10 percent — remained open after 6 p.m. Of those, 60 were still open after 7pm and 22 even after 7.30pm. In some, even after 8 p.m., the sounds were still going on. A polling station in Pankow closed at 8:56 pm.

In how many polling stations were cut off due to the loss of ballot papers?

In a total of 102 polling stations, the voting process faltered for a long time. Outages in 31 towns lasted between 30 and 60 minutes, and outages in 36 polling stations lasted 125 minutes.

How many wrong cards are issued?

1608 forged first ballot papers were issued in several polling stations. Since the first vote is a personal election, the state return officer evaluates it as invalid. This applies to Steglitz-Zehlendorf (1099 false note), Pankow (329), Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg (121), Mitte (41) and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf (18).

In Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, the second ballot papers were issued in 1969 which actually belonged to the city of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. The district election commission assesses the votes as valid, but this is doubtful.

3,409 eligible voters had absolutely no chance of casting the first vote because polling stations lacked the first ballot papers. Most of them were missing at Marzahn-Hellersdorf, i.e. 1262, followed by Spandau (594).

No second ballot was issued in 1,297 cases. In Spandau, he lost 554 second ballot papers, followed by Lichtenberg (391).

What areas were particularly affected by the election chaos?

Electoral council records show irregularities in Pankow, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg in particular. Here the interruptions increased due to the loss of ballot papers. In Pankow in particular, polling stations remained open long after expectations with election results flashed on television.

But there were also many irregularities in Mitte, Reinickendorf and Steglitz-Zehlendorf.

What do the district election committees say about the collapse?

Not much. Detailed list of errors only comes from Pankow. Of the 200 pens, the Electoral Commission minutes said: “68 people could not vote.” Reason: no ballot papers. Same from Ballot 207: “70 people couldn’t vote.” As for polling station 211, it says starting at 5 pm due to the loss of ballot papers: “Until the end of the elections, the first and second AGH votes could not be cast. The voters had to be sent home.”

Most of the other records available for this newspaper don’t say much about the malfunctions. Usually nothing is entered under the heading ‘The following concerns cannot be clarified’.

said former MP Marcel Luth, who filed an objection to the election. “I am therefore convinced that this form of ‘restraint’, which does not occur in the public eye, has been operating less and less for a long time and has long reached its limits.”

Which elections can be repeated and which are not?

The Electoral Commission of the Bundestag is responsible for monitoring the elections for the Bundestag. He shall decide whether to recommend to the plenary a repeat of federal elections in certain constituencies if there is a possibility that deficiencies have affected the distribution of federal seats.

After all, CDU’s Monika Grütters was in Reinickendorf before her SPD competitor. At a hearing last week, returning federal officer Till saw a “complete systemic failure” in the electoral organization and asked, “What must happen to us to consider the election worth repeating?” Thiel urged a repeat of the federal election in six constituencies.

What constituencies are you talking about?

75 Berlin dead

76 Berlin Pankow

77 Berlin-Reinkendorf

79 Berlin-Steglitz-Zehlendorf

80 Berlin Charlottenburg Wilmersdorf

83 Berlin-Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg / Prenzlauer Berg Ost.

Regardless, the state constitutional court is deciding on possible new elections for the House of Representatives and the provincial parliaments.

Why was the Berlin Marathon held on Election Day?

Because of the marathon, which ran for 42,195 kilometers through Berlin, it was almost impossible to pass through the city. It also means that renewal of ballot papers from city halls can only be delivered after a delay. According to the Senate, the marathon could not be postponed because it was a scheduled date in international sports plans, such as the New York Marathon or the Boston Marathon.

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