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Constituents at 300 Berlin polling stations to recast 2021 election votes

Constituents at 300 Berlin polling stations to recast 2021 election votes

Germany's traffic light coalition question the 2021 federal election results in Berlin one year after polling stations fell into chaos on triple vote election day.

Traffic light coalition say a revote must be organised

Politicians on the Bundestag Election Review Committee have suggested that constituents in at least 300 of Berlin's 2.300 polling stations should recast their ballots for the three different votes that took place in the German city on September 26, 2021.

As it stands, there are many different estimates as to how many polling stations were chaotic enough to warrant a recast. Berlin’s former returning officer Petra Michaelis, who resigned shortly after polling day following criticism of the disorganisation, estimated that 207 polling stations would have to redo the vote.

Since the day saw three different votes, there is uncertainty about which votes need to be recast. Social Democratic Party MP Johannes Fechner has said that only the Bundestag elections require a revote. If the Bundestag Election Committee agrees with Fechner, then it would be up to the state of Berlin to consider if a rerun of state and local council elections, and the Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen housing referendum, are also necessary.

Ultimately a ruling must be made by the constitutional court in Berlin. The ruling will also decide how many polling stations are required to organise a revote or if all of Berlin’s constituencies will be included. The court’s ruling is not expected for another three months.

What made Berlin’s 2021 triple election day so chaotic?

Angela Merkel’s decision to retire after serving as chancellor for 16 years meant that the 2021 federal election would be a significant one for Germany, regardless of which parties came into government. 

On top of this, voters in Berlin with a German passport were electing state parliamentarians and deciding whether to nationalise 240.000 houses and apartments owned by the Deutsche Wohnen & Co property companies. Voters with other EU passports were also able to vote in local council elections.

With so much to consider, mishaps were a risk. On the day, polling stations ran out of ballot papers while ballot delivery vans got stuck in transit - all while the Berlin Marathon meant traffic diversions in the city centre. Some constituents were given the wrong ballot papers or queues were so long that they were turned away.

Berlin mayor and buildings senator are vulnerable

The current building senator Andreas Giesel, who was head of interior administration at the time of the vote, is being blamed for the mess by the centre-right Christian Democratic Union and far-right Alternative for Germany parties. Both have called on Berlin’s Social Democratic Party mayor, Franziska Giffey to fire Giesel.

Calls for Giesel to loose his job are also coming from the left, with the Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen movement claiming that internal emails prove Giesel made significant attempts to delay the housing referendum. In one email, published in a Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen press release, the government’s own lawyer allegedly writes, “Geisel knowingly acted unlawfully in delaying the petition for a referendum in 2020… Should the lawsuit be admissible, we would have no chance.”

A revote could also put Giffey in a vulnerable spot. In 2021 the mayor won by a fine margin of 21,4 percent to the Greens' 18,9 percent. Since the election it has been reported that 46 percent of Berliners are unsatisfied with her work, a sentiment demonstrated on May Day 2022 when Giffey was egged and booed off stage by protestors during a speech.

Olivia Logan

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Olivia Logan

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