Berlin (dpa) – After numerous incidents in Sunday’s election in Berlin, the state returning officer admitted problems, but initially rejected the consequences for staff. She currently sees no reason to give up her post, Petra Michaelis said on Monday.
However, she admitted that there were a number of difficulties, such as missing ballots and waiting too long. However, he did not provide specific answers to many unanswered questions. An election challenge is only possible after the official final result has been determined on October 14.
According to the head of the electoral control office, Gert Baasen, around 100 of Berlin’s 2,257 polling stations have encountered problems. “Many complaints concerned the same polling stations. According to the first reports, difficulties arose in the Berlin districts of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Pankow and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg.
Five voices and six voices
Long queues and waiting times of up to two hours outside some polling stations have been reported. Some voters had to vote well after 6 p.m. – the first predictions of the election results had long been known. They have also received complaints, Michaelis said. One of the reasons was the combination of elections to the Bundestag, the House of Representatives, the district parliaments and the referendum. In five votes, the Berliners managed to make a total of six crosses.
The number of election workers has already grown from 20,000 to 34,000 and “many more” voting booths have been set up, Michaelis said. However, this multiple choice was expected “with great concern”. “It is not normal for voters to receive five ballots.” No one can refuse a voter if he spends a very long time in a voting booth to make his cross.
Breakdowns and liability
According to observers, there were not enough ballots in some polling stations, so they had to wait for subsequent deliveries. The regional returning officer could not explain this: “Of course, we had prepared enough ballots, we were provided about 110 to 120% of the people entitled to vote.
The respective constituency election officials are responsible for the nomination and distribution to polling stations. “The returning officer does not know how the ballots are distributed from districts to polling stations.” In the next step, the electoral boards of the respective polling stations should transport the ballots to the right place. Here again, the state electoral commission has no influence.
Michaelis also mentioned a staff problem in the Berlin administration. District election offices are said to be operating “on the edge” and have too few staff. She raised the issue with the district mayors two weeks before the election for “super polling day” and asked them to increase their numbers. However, you have not received a response.
Treatment and open questions
If people couldn’t vote, if the ballots from different districts were exchanged or were not issued correctly, it needs to be “seriously investigated,” Michaelis said. For some voters, it was certainly “terrible”. At the moment, however, she still does not have information on the number of missing ballots, the length of the wait times and the date of the last vote. All this remains to be requested from the municipalities for an “inventory”. Michaelis said she was in close contact with the federal returning officer on Sunday evening. He is expecting a report from her and will receive it as well.
Calls possible only after the official final result
The state returning officer now wants to verify whether there were “relevant electoral errors”. This is the case, for example, when voters could not vote because there was too little or not the correct ballot. There could be a re-election if there were “mandate errors”, that is, if there were effects on the distribution of seats in parliament. This remains to be verified.
Such mishaps are by no means new to Berlin. In the 2017 federal election, for example, a computer failure delayed the count. The preliminary final result was not known until 3:44 am.