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German election should be rerun in parts of Berlin, ballot supervisor tells MPs

BERLIN — Germany’s general election last September was faulty in some boroughs of Berlin and should be repeated in six constituencies, elections administrator Georg Thiel said Tuesday.

On election day, September 26, 2021, electoral chaos engulfed parts of Berlin: Some of the city’s 12 constituencies were ill-prepared to hold a general election on the same day that the German capital was also holding its marathon. Severe traffic disruption and delayed ballot deliveries ensued, leading some people to go home without voting rather than wait in long queues. Polling stations also remained open beyond 6 p.m., even after preliminary results were announced.

Thiel made similar remarks last November, when he said not everyone had a chance to vote, an opinion he reiterated on Tuesday in front of the electoral review committee of MPs.

“This kind of thing should not happen in a civilized country,” Thiel said, calling the situation at the time a “complete systematic failure of the entire electoral organization.”

“What more has to happen for us to see elections as repeatable or unlawful?” he asked.

A rerun of the election could even result in some upsets: In Berlin-Reinickendorf, one of the six constituencies that saw irregularities last year, the race was decided by less than 2,000 votes, meaning a repeat of the vote could potentially yield a different result.

Governed by a coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the far-left Die Linke since 2016, the situation has been a gift to the opposition Christian Democrats (CDU).

“The SPD-led senate embarrasses Berlin to the core. Awkward! Any small municipality organizes elections better than this senate,” tweeted Kai Wegner, the head of Berlin’s CDU.

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