Logistical chaos: Berlin polling station on September 26, 2021
Georg Hilgemann / dpa
After the chaos in the federal elections in Berlin, the capital is to get its own state electoral office.
According to SPIEGEL information, this is what the commission, which analyzed the problems of the election day on behalf of the Berlin interior administration, calls for in its final report.
The office should plan and organize the logistics around the elections centrally in the future.
The delivery and collection of ballot papers and polling booths should be uniform for all of Berlin.
The RBB reported first.
In addition, there must be uniform and binding standards for all Berlin districts
for equipping polling stations, for example with regard to the number of polling booths.
The state returning authority must then be able to check this equipment in a binding manner.
The Commission also proposes a central dispatch of ballot letters at state level.
Their report will be officially presented on Wednesday.
The position of state returning officer is currently an honorary position.
It consists of an election officer and her deputy.
There is also a full-time manager with several employees.
In its report, the commission calls for the creation of a state electoral office with more staff, with direct access to the Berlin Senate and the President of the House of Representatives.
This is to ensure that the state electoral office receives the financial and human resources it needs.
The model for the idea is probably Hamburg, where there is already such an office, which is led by the state returning officer Oliver Rudolf.
Rudolf was part of the Berlin Commission.
On September 26, 2021, there were long queues in front of several polling stations in Berlin, and some citizens were still voting after the first projections were published.
The main reason for the delays was the lack of ballot papers, and it was difficult for supplies to reach the bars because of the major Berlin Marathon event.
The Bundestag Election Review Committee is currently examining whether the Bundestag elections need to be repeated in parts of Berlin.
A repeat of the elections to the House of Representatives is also possible, which the Berlin Constitutional Court is hearing at the end of September.
On the day of the election, five votes took place, and some of the wrong ballot papers were on display in the individual localities – the districts had arranged the distribution of the papers differently.
So that the chaos does not repeat itself, the state electoral office should be able to centrally control the logistics related to the election and plan together with the districts, according to the commission's proposal.
She also suggests hiring external companies to deliver and collect the ballot papers and polling booths.
So far, the districts have regulated this independently, in some electoral boards picked up the documents themselves, sometimes transported them on bicycles.
So far, the state returning officer has no authority to issue instructions
A hearing before the Bundestag's Election Review Committee at the end of May showed that most of the problems that arose on election day were already known, but that the state returning authority had no way of making rules for the Berlin districts.
The Berlin State Returning Officer cannot make any binding decisions about the organization and logistics herself, but can only exchange ideas with the districts and the Interior Senate and make recommendations.
According to the RBB, the commission recommends examining whether the state returning authority could be given a binding right to issue instructions.
After the chaos on election day, the commission was set up by then Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD).
It works independently, the implementation of its results is not mandatory.
In view of the great public pressure and the composition of the commission, however, it is likely that large parts of the proposals will be implemented.