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Fact check: Unvaccinated can vote at polling stations in German election

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By Matthew Holroyd
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A vote is cast at a polling station during the Saxony-Anhalt state elections in Wittenberg.
A vote is cast at a polling station during the Saxony-Anhalt state elections in Wittenberg.   -   Copyright  Jan Woitas/dpa via AP
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Misleading claims about COVID-19 health passes have been spread weeks two before Germany's federal election.

Online users had falsely suggested that unvaccinated citizens will not be allowed to vote at German polling stations.

But the country's Federal Electoral Commissioner has repeatedly denied the rumours.

"It is also possible for unvaccinated and untested persons to exercise their right to vote, provided they observe the respective hygiene measures," Georg Thiel said in a statement.

The commission added that measures will be implemented across the country to protect German citizens as they vote.

Misinformation about ballot boxes and electoral fraud has been circulating on social media as the election draws closer.

With German Chancellor Angela Merkel stepping down from the role after nearly 16 years, the 2021 election in Germany has added weight.

But amid political campaigning, electoral authorities are fighting the spread of online misinformation.

Like many European countries, Germany has seen demonstrations against its decision to implement the European Union's Digital COVID Certificate.

The health pass certifies that a person has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, is recovering from infection or has recently tested negative, and can be used to enter restaurants and cultural spaces.

But one social media user suggested that the passes were also mandatory for polling booths in this month's election.

One tweet, which was shared more than 300 times, showed an apparent newspaper clipping and suggested that no unvaccinated person could vote in person with a negative COVID-19 test.

Germany's Federal Electoral Commission has confirmed that the so-called "3G rule" would not apply.

The authority stated that citizens may be asked by regional authorities to wear a mask at polling stations, but that digital certificates were not required.

"The protection concept on election day is based on the pandemic situation," the commission has said. "The federal and state regulations on infection control will be decisive."

"The mask obligation serves the purpose of preventing the transmission of the COVID-19 disease and is already required in many everyday situations."

Polling stations could also be held in outdoor spaces such as tents, it added, while citizens can also submit a postal vote to avoid attending polling stations.