According to an expert commission set up by the Senate, the numerous mishaps and problems in the elections in Berlin on September 26, 2021 were foreseeable and therefore avoidable.
“The mishaps on election day were not a natural phenomenon that befell everyone,” said political scientist Stephan Bröchler on Wednesday at the presentation of the commission’s report on the election chaos in the previous year.
The report shows that there were numerous shortcomings in the preparation and implementation of the election day. Among other things, this was due to unclear responsibilities and a city-wide perspective was missing.
In addition, the complexity of the election Sunday with four ballots in the capital was massively underestimated. Right at the beginning of the report it says: “The elections in Berlin on September 26, 20211 not only unnecessarily hindered the specific election process due to an unusually large number of glitches and errors, but also permanently disturbed the trust of the citizens in the most important democratic act of participation in our community .”
On September 26, voters in Berlin were not only able to elect the Bundestag, but also the House of Representatives and district assemblies, as well as vote in a referendum on the expropriation of large housing groups.
This was made more difficult by, among other things, incorrect or missing ballot papers, the temporary closure of polling stations and sometimes hours of waiting. In addition, some polling stations were open well after 6 p.m. Due to the massive problems, a partial or complete repetition of the elections for the House of Representatives and in individual Berlin constituencies for the Bundestag is also being considered. But it hasn’t been decided yet.
The body set up in November 2021 included around 20 experts from several federal states, including lawyers, representatives of civil society and practitioners from election authorities. They should analyze what happened on election day, September 26, 2021, and come up with proposals so that something like this doesn’t happen again.
According to the broadcaster RBB, which received the report in advance, the commission is now recommending structural changes in the organization of elections. From the point of view of the committee, it should be checked whether the state returning authority has the right to issue instructions to the district electoral offices. The state returning officer is currently “a queen without a country,” says the report, which is also available to WELT. You have no instruments to control elections in Berlin as a whole.
The Commission identified the equipment and preparation of the polling stations as one of the main problems. Overall, the commission comes to the conclusion: “In retrospect, the problems that arose on election day were the result of avoidable mistakes in planning and preparing the Berlin elections with too little foresight.”
The city is also clearly recommended not to hold any major events such as the Berlin Marathon parallel to democratic elections in the future. It goes on to say that “elections and votes” in Berlin urgently need greater standardization; this applies, for example, to the “recruitment of election workers, their training and qualification”. “The “patchwork” that has existed here so far must be eliminated,” it says.
In the midst of all the criticism, however, there is also praise: “No fault” for the “election chaos” on September 26, 2021 will hit the more than 38,000 volunteer election workers who, as it says literally, “extend themselves to the limit of their capabilities in an exemplary manner used and prevented worse”.