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Fact check: Myths about German ballot box 'fraud'

Google Oneindia News

Berlin, Sep 27: German citizens cast their ballots for the German election on Sunday — but it was the vote of chancellor candidate Armin Laschet of the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) that set social media buzzing after he broke the secret ballot system by folding his ballot paper incorrectly while casting his vote.

Fact check: Myths about German ballot box fraud

But observers with a keen eye also noticed another detail: The padlock on the ballot box was not properly secured.

But do ballot boxes need to be locked with a padlock? No, according to a spokesperson for the Bundeswahlleiter, or Federal Returning Officer, which is responsible for overseeing the German elections. "The ballot boxes must be closed, but it is not legally stipulated in what form they must be closed," spokesperson Florian Burg told DW. Padlocks are not required on ballot boxes, so an open lock, therefore, is not a violation, he added.

Section 51 of the Federal Election Regulations states: "The ballot box must be provided with a lid. [...] It must be closeable."

The same approach applies to seals on ballot boxes: The seals are not required and, therefore, any broken seals do not contravene electoral laws.

Fact check: Myths about German ballot box fraud

Ballot box seals became a topic of concern on social media after a Twitter user posted a photo of a broken election seal and called it "election fraud."

But the accusation was contradicted by the spokesperson for the Federal Returning Officer. "There is no standard ballot box. In this respect, it is only regulated how large it must be, but not how it must be closed. Seals are not a requirement." The statement is buttressed by federal election regulations available on the website.

The tweet referring to the broken seal said it was found at a ballot box in the town of Preussisch Oldendorf, in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The town's mayor, Marko Steiner, confirmed that the team at the polling station had been made aware of a broken seal and investigated the matter. The result: it was an old seal from a previous election that had not been removed "for whatever reason," Steiner said.

City officials weren't able to find out from which election exactly the seal was from.

Similar to the spokesman for Germany's top election official, Steiner said the regulations stipulate that the ballot must be closed.

"According to the ordinance, the ballot box has to be closed. That's usually with a lock in our city," he said. The Twitter photo of the broken seal also shows a small padlock.

Steiner added that the election official once again confirmed that it had checked the ballot box before voting began. It was empty and locked with a padlock afterward.

According to the mayor, the election official kept the key until the polling stations were closed, suggesting the ballot boxes were not tampered with.

Source: DW

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