Bundestag election 2021

2021 Bundestag Election

The 20th German Bundestag will be elected on 26 September 2021.

Voters can vote at a polling station or by post. It is not possible to vote online. Voting starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m., when the polling stations close.

Eligibility to vote

You are eligible if you have reached the age of 18 years on election day, hold German citizenship, have been living in Germany for a minimum of 3 months and are not disqualified from voting.

What is a voters' register?

Those who are eligible to vote are entered in a voters' register. You will automatically be entered in the voters' register of the municipality where you have your registered main residence on 15 August 2021.

I am moving house. Where do I vote?

You will automatically be entered in the voters' register of the municipality where you have your registered main residence on 15 August 2021. If you move house (and register at your new domicile) between 16 August and 5 September 2021, you can informally apply for entry in the voters' register to the local authorities of your new residence. If you change residence on or after 6 September 2021, you will be entitled to vote at your former place of residence.

When will I receive my voter's notification?

You should have received your voter's notification by 5 September 2021. If not, please contact your municipal authority to find out if you have been duly entered in the voters' register.

What do I need a voter's notification for?

The voter's notification informs you that you are listed in the voters' register. It also gives the address of your polling station.

At the polling station you will generally have to present only your voter's notification to cast your vote. If you do not present your voters' notification or if there are doubts about your identity, you will have to provide different evidence. You can prove your identity by presenting your identity card, for example, or other official photo identification (passport/driving licence).

There also is an application form for postal voting on the back of the voter's notification.

I am German and live abroad – Can I vote?

If you are German but do not have a place of residence in Germany anymore, you are eligible to vote under specific conditions. What you have to do is file an application to be entered in the voters' register. The municipality in charge is the one where you last had a registered main residence before moving abroad.

Can someone else vote for me?

This is not possible. You can vote only once and must do so yourself. Voting by proxy is forbidden.

Voting at the polling station

The address of your polling station is shown on your voter's notification. You must vote at that polling station if you have not applied to vote by post beforehand. The enclosed polling card entitles you to vote in any polling station of your constituency.

What do I need to bring to the polling station to vote?

You should bring your voter's notification and have your identity card or passport ready. You do not need your voter's notification to vote but then will have to show your identity card or passport.

What happens when I get to the polling station?

In the polling station, the electoral board will give you a ballot paper. To mark your ballot paper you must enter a polling booth and you have to make sure to cast your vote without being observed by others. You must not take anyone into the polling booth with you (except for babies and toddlers, and helpers) or make photos or videos while inside. After you have voted, a member of the electoral board will uncover the ballot box for you to put the ballot paper in.

Is my polling station accessible?

Your voter's notification informs you if your polling station is accessible or not. If your polling station is not accessible and you require barrier-free access, you can apply for a postal vote. The enclosed polling card enables you to vote in any polling station of your constituency or by post.

I am blind or visually impaired - Is there any help available?

Blind and visually impaired people can cast their vote on their own with the help of ballot paper templates. They are provided free of charge by the Land associations of the German Association of Blind and Visually Impaired People (DBSV).

Voting by post

You do not need a reason to vote by post. You have to file an application with your municipal authority to vote by post. Then you will receive a polling card and a ballot paper.

How do I apply for a postal vote?

You can apply for a postal vote either personally or in writing (for example by letter, e-mail or via the website of many municipalities). There often is a personal QR code on the voter's notification which enables you to apply with your smartphone.

The application should be filed as soon as possible but not later than 6 p.m. on Friday, 24 September 2021. If you apply late, you will have to collect the documents. You can apply for a postal vote even before you have received your voter's notification.

How does voting by post work?

Mark the ballot paper yourself without being observed, put it into the blue ballot paper envelope and seal the envelope. Then sign the affirmation in lieu of an oath on the enclosed polling card and put that into the red official return envelope together with the ballot paper envelope. Seal the red return envelope and put it in the post or hand it in personally to the authority indicated on the envelope.

By when do I need to send the ballot letter back?

The ballot letter must have been received at the address on the official return envelope not later than 6 p.m. on 26 September 2021, the Sunday of the election. If sent by mail, the ballot letter should be posted in Germany several days before the election, if possible.

Who pays the postage?

You can send the ballot letter unstamped by Deutsche Post AG within Germany. If you send it from abroad, you will have to pay the postage.

Voting from abroad

How you can vote from abroad depends on the type of your stay:

I will be abroad temporarily (for example on holiday)

You can have your postal voting documents sent to an address in a foreign country. However, you will have to pay the postage when you send the ballot letter back to Germany. Only ballot letters received by 6 p.m. on election day will be considered. Therefore, you should allow enough time for your letter to be delivered.

I am living abroad

As a German living abroad you have to file a written application for entry in the voters' register. Other conditions ...

Please complete and sign the application form, then send the original to the municipality in Germany where you last had a registered main residence before moving abroad. Your application must have been received there by 5 September 2021 at the latest. You should file it as soon as possible, however, to allow for longer mail delivery times to and from foreign countries. It is not possible to apply online. Information on the use of official courier services ...

If the municipality approves your application, the postal voting documents will be sent to the address you indicated. You will have to pay the postage when you send the ballot letter back to Germany.

Voting online

Presently there are very strong arguments of electoral legislation and practice against casting votes online in Bundestag elections. The principles laid down in electoral law, of elections having to be general, free and secret, cannot be sufficiently guaranteed in an "internet election".

Ballot paper

How many votes do I have?

You have two votes in Bundestag elections: a first vote to be marked on the left hand side and a second vote to be marked on the right hand side of the ballot paper.

Your first vote goes to a candidate of your constituency. The one who obtains the majority of the votes is elected. Your second vote goes to the Land list of a party. The second votes determine how many seats in the German Bundestag go to each party.

When is a ballot paper invalid?

Votes cast in the Bundestag election will be invalid, for instance, when no vote or more than two votes have been marked, when it is not clear beyond any doubt what the voter intended when he or she marked the ballot paper or when there are drawings (for instance a smiley instead of an X in the printed circle) or reservations (such as additions, reasons for casting the vote) on the ballot paper.

In the postal ballot, both votes are invalid also when the ballot paper is not inside the blue ballot paper envelope or when the polling card is missing or has not been signed.

Why is the corner of my ballot paper punched or cut off?

All ballot papers have been punched in the upper right corner or that corner has been cut off. This enables blind and sight impaired people to position the ballot paper template precisely in order to read the content of the ballot paper with their fingers and then vote on their own and in secret.

Why is my year of birth group and sex printed on my ballot paper?

Such ballot papers are handed out in polling districts where representative electoral statistics are compiled. Data are collected on how men and women of specific year of birth groups have voted while the secrecy of the ballot is preserved. In addition to sex and group of birth year, a letter (A to M) may be printed to the ballot paper for each group so that the right ballot paper can be handed out more quickly.

Voting and COVID-19

It is possible to wear a face covering (FFP2, surgical or community mask) in the polling station. Depending on the development of the pandemic, this may be advisable or even compulsory. Please note the instructions provided together with the voter's notification and at the polling station.

I have caught COVID-19 or am quarantining

In that case you must not visit the polling station! You can only vote by post.

In the case of a sudden illness which has been confirmed, for instance, by a doctor and/or if you are quarantining you can apply for a postal vote to the electoral office of your municipality until 3 p.m. on election day. The postal voting documents can be collected at the electoral office by a person authorised to do so by a written proxy.

Can I use my own writing implement?

Yes, you can use your own writing implement – for example a fountain pen, ballpoint pen, felt-tip pen or pencil.

Dates and deadlines

Voters' register

When is the voters' register compiled?

On 15 August 2021 all eligible voters will be entered in a voters' register of the municipality where they have their registered residence on that day.

Voter's notification

When will I receive my voter's notification?

Voter's notifications are sent out about four to six weeks before election day but not later than on 5 September 2021. Please contact your municipal authority if you have not received your voter's notification until then.

Voting by post

When can I apply to vote by post?

You do not have to wait for your voter’s notification but can apply before to your municipal authority if you want to vote by post.

Until when can I apply to vote by post?

The application should be filed as soon as possible but not later than 6 p.m. on 24 September 2021. In special cases, for instance of confirmed sudden illness, the application can even be filed until 3 p.m. on the day of the election.

When will I get the postal voting documents?

The municipalities will post the postal voting documents around mid-August at the earliest.

By when do I have to return the postal voting documents?

If sent by mail, the ballot letter should be posted in Germany several days before the election. It must have been received at the address on the official return envelope not later than 6 p.m. on the Sunday of the election. It may also be handed in there.

Germans abroad

I am German and live abroad - Until when can I apply for entry in the voters' register?

The application must be received by the municipal authority on 5 September 2021 at the latest. This deadline cannot be extended.

When will I receive the documents?

The municipalities will post the postal voting documents around mid-August at the earliest.

By when do I have to return the postal voting documents?

As soon as possible after receipt. The completed postal voting documents must have been received by the authority indicated on the official return envelope not later than 6 p.m. on 26 September 2021.

The poll

When will the polling stations be open?

The polling stations will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on 26 September 2021, the Sunday of the election.

Results

When will the election result be announced?

Intermediate results will be published on the website of the Federal Returning Officer on election night. The Federal Returning Officer usually announces the provisional election result during the night already. The final election result will be established approximately three weeks after the election.

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