Now the chaos can be quantified even more precisely. The Berlin state election management currently assumes that in the House of Representatives elections in September 2021 – one of three elections held on that day – wrong ballot papers were issued in 3577 cases. In 4,706 cases, it was also completely forgotten to distribute first or second vote documents to eligible voters.
On September 26, 2021, voters in the German capital had to be turned away again and again because there were not enough ballot papers. The interim closures of the polling stations added up to at least 55 hours.
This emerges from an answer by the deputy election officer Ulricke Rockmann to questions from the Berlin State Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court will have to decide whether to repeat the election in the coming months. This would be necessary if it could be proven that the irregularities had an impact on the allocation of seats in Parliament.
In the statement, the election management gives reasons why the ballot papers are said to have been mixed up. Accordingly, the commissioned printing company made mistakes – and the districts apparently exercised little care. It says: “After it became known that boxes had been mixed up and incorrectly labeled during postal voting, all districts were offered the opportunity to have the packages received checked by employees of the printing works.” However, only a few people made use of this option.
There are more than 30 objections to the election. One challenge comes from Free Voter politician Marcel Luthe. Luthe told WELT: “It’s about a very central principle, the principle of democracy, the question of what role the citizen still plays as a sovereign. Here, elections were handled with GDR nonchalance.” It was “incredibly important” that there was now complete clarification. Because otherwise you could “sometime completely forget about elections”.
An appendix to the statement also shows that the Interior Senator at the time, Andreas Geisel (SPD), was aware that Berlin would face an “extraordinary challenge”. In addition to the election of the House of Representatives, the Bundestag elections, the election of the district assemblies and a referendum also took place. In a letter on May 21, the then Interior Senator asked the district mayors about the status of the preparations. Geisel wanted to know how many election workers were deployed and how the training courses for these workers were being prepared.
Geisel apparently had no idea that it was not the staffing, but much more banal problems that would throw the election into chaos. Election workers later put it on record in various districts that some of the ballot papers had already gone out by midday. In many cases, the requested supplies could not have been delivered because the Berlin marathon was taking place at the same time as the election and roads were closed. In many of the cases, helpers had to drive to the district election offices themselves on bicycles and pick up the necessary documents.
The records from the polling stations are available to the Constitutional Court. According to their own statements, the election management has no access. She also has no investigative powers, writes Rockmann.
This is incomprehensible to Luthe: “Why do they exist at all if there are no controls at all here? This is a huge problem. If no one is looking and no one is checking, then no one is doing their job. Why should it?
The former member of parliament, who failed to enter parliament as the top candidate of the Free Voters, believes that his efforts will soon be successful. “The evidence is before the Constitutional Court. Based on everything we know, I assume that no elections within the meaning of Article 38 of the Basic Law took place in September,” said Luthe. If that is the case, then the Constitutional Court must intervene immediately. “Because then the current parliament will have no democratic legitimacy,” Luthe is convinced.