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German court orders repeat of 2021 national election in parts of Berlin due to errors

A man casts his ballot for the German elections in a polling station in Berlin, Sept. 26, 2021
A man casts his ballot for the German elections in a polling station in Berlin, Sept. 26, 2021 Copyright Michael Probst/AP
Copyright Michael Probst/AP
By Christian Moore with AP
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A German court has ruled that voters in a fifth of Berlin’s constituencies will have to return to the polls if they want to make their vote count in the 2021 national election.

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A series of failings documented across hundreds of the capital’s polling stations means that Germany’s constitutional court has ordered the 2021 national election to be partially repeated.

Infractions were identified in 455 of Berlin’s 2,256 constituencies, which by law will now have to hold a new vote within 60 days.

The ruling comes more than two years after election day, 26 September 2021, when a host of logistical errors, inconsistencies and loopholes marred the city’s voting mechanisms.

Some polling stations ran out of ballot papers before voting closed, while others received papers for the wrong district, resulting in a large number of invalidated ballots.

Voting in all constituencies was meant to close at 18:00, however some polling stations remained open for anyone still waiting in line. A number of ballots were therefore cast after exit polls had been made public.

People queue in front of a polling station in the Moabit district of Berlin on election day
People queue in front of a polling station in the Moabit district of Berlin on election dayMichael Probst/AP

One of the reasons mooted for long lines is that voters in Berlin, which as well as being a city is also a state, were tasked with casting four separate ballots on the day: for federal, state, and district-level elections, as well as a city-wide referendum. The Berlin Marathon, also held the same day, added to logistical difficulties.

A previous court ruling resulted in the 2021 Berlin state election being entirely rerun in February, leading to a change in mayor.

On this occasion, however, the limited scope of the repeated vote is not expected to change the majority of the current national government, the so-called ‘traffic light coalition’ between Green, Free Democrat and Social Democrat parties.

Germany’s next national election is due in 2025.

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