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Berlin: Partial Repetition of Elections for Bundestag Likely, Due to Super Sunday Chaos

In the fall of last year, big elections took place in the Federal Republic of Germany. On election day, serious problems popped up in Berlin. Now, they are supposed to have consequences. The elections will probably be repeated in some voting precincts.

Berlin, July 8th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — In 2021, Super Sunday came up on September 26th. A gazillion elections took place on the same day. Up there in Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania, they had state elections. The same was the case in the city state of Berlin. Here, a plebiscite was held too. On top of it all, the entire country had to elect the new Bundestag. This was a big day, to say the least.

Pile of Paper

Berliners got six ballots. One was for their local candidates for the Bundestag, another for the parties in the parliament. The third ballot was for the local candidates for the Berlin House of Representatives, the fourth one for the parties represented there. A fifth ballot was for the district assemblies, and the last one for a referendum about dispossessions of real estate companies. Each Berliner who made it into a voting booth got a big pile of paper.

On September 26th, 2021, many Berliners did not have the ballots they should have had. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Take a big election day like this one and add the Berlin Marathon, the German capital’s biggest sports event of the year. Stir the two items in a pot of boiling water before you look at the result. It was a chaos, and an unnecessary one. The city could have seen potential issues in advance. You do not have to be Einstein or Hawking to come to the conclusion that all of this was too much for one day.

Final Rehearsal

The problems started during the preparation phase. In all twelve electoral district Berlin has, the wrong ballots were sent to 400 of a total of 2,257 polling stations. This issue led to several other issues. Voters waited in long lines while the right ballots were supposed to be delivered. Some polling stations extended their hours of operation. In spite of this unconventional measure, some Berliners did not have the opportunity to vote at all. So they went back home after waiting for hours.

At many polling stations, things were fine. But at about 400 of them, they were not. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Whether the chaos could have been prevented completely if the Berlin Marathon had not taken place is unclear. But the sports event definitely did not help. Cabs and delivery vans stuffed with ballots got stuck in traffic for hours, because the entire city was closed to motorized traffic, as 25,000 runners were busy winning (or at least finishing) the Berlin Marathon. In Berlin, that day was a disaster. Elections are not the final rehearsal for “Macbeth” or “The Westside Story”, meaning their are not supposed to be messed up.

First Time

The consequences? The Bundestag’s Election Inquiry Committee will likely recommend a partial repetition of the Bundestag election in the 400 voting precincts in which things did not run smoothly on September 26th, 2021. This is what the committee’s chairman Johannes Fechner told the RBB radio and TV network. Other German-language media reported about this as well.

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Most of the affected precincts are located in Berlin’s Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Mitte, Reinickendorf and Steglitz-Zehlendorf districts. The repetition of the elections there could take place in early 2023. If the Inquiry Committee indeed recommends this approach, the entire Bundestag will probably take its vote on the matter after the summer break, in October. It is the first time this kind of election mess occurred in the Federal Republic of Germany.

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