Press release no. 15/2014 of April 28, 2014
Information for blind and visually impaired voters and on barrier-free voting
WIESBADEN – At the 2014 European Election, blind and visually impaired persons entitled to vote will be able to cast their votes on their own using ballot paper templates, without the assistance of a confidant. The Federal Returning Officer reports that ballot paper templates are provided free of charge by the Land associations of the German Association of Blind and Visually Impaired People (DBSV).
Ballot paper templates have been offered for all of Germany since the 2002 Bundestag Election and the 2004 European Election. The associations of the blind will be reimbursed the costs of template production by the Federal Government.
For orientation purposes, all ballot papers have been punched in the upper right corner, while the upper right corner of the ballot paper template has been cut off (in Baden-Württemberg the upper left corner). Together with each template, information is supplied on the structure of the template and the ballot paper; that information may be in Braille, on an audio CD, in DAISY format or in large print depending on the Land association. This will enable blind and visually impaired voters to mark their ballot paper on their own in the polling booth on election day or before that day by postal ballot. Those casting their vote at the polling station should however take their ballot paper template home afterwards to ensure the secrecy of the ballot. No difference will be seen on the ballot paper itself.
Without having to be a member of an association of the blind, persons wishing to vote with the help of a ballot paper template may order such template via
- the DBSV hotline for all of Germany, +49 1805 666456 (0.14 euros/min. from the German fixed line network), which will automatically connect the caller with the Land association responsible, or
- directly from the DBSV Land associations listed at the end of this press release.
Barrier-free access to the polling station is particularly important for voters with limited mobility. Each voter’s notification states whether or not access to the polling station is barrier-free and where information can be obtained on barrier-free polling stations and aids. If access to the polling station is not barrier-free, the voter may apply for a polling card to be issued so that he or she can vote in another, barrier-free polling station of the constituency or of the town not attached to an administrative district in which the polling card has been issued. As a matter of course, it is also possible to cast the vote by postal ballot. Voters applying for postal ballot do not have to indicate any reason why they will not be able to go to the polling station on election day. More information is given on the polling card and the postal ballot instruction sheet, which is provided together with the postal ballot documents.
People who are not able to read, have only inadequate reading skills or, due to a physical impairment, are not in a position to mark the ballot paper on their own, to fold it or put it in the ballot box, may be assisted by another person at the polling station or in postal voting. The voter may choose anyone as a helper, for instance a member of the electoral board. That person may enter the polling booth together with the voter if this is necessary to provide the required assistance. However, the helper must only fulfil the wishes of the voter and is obliged to keep his or her knowledge of the person's vote confidential.
Upon request, the following DBSV Land associations will provide blind and visually impaired voters with free ballot paper templates:
- Badischer Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein V.m.K. in Mannheim
Tel: 06 21 / 40 20 31
- Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Südbaden e. V. in Freiburg
Tel: 07 61 / 3 61 22
- Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Württemberg e. V. in Stuttgart
Tel: 07 11 / 2 10 60-0
- Bayerischer Blinden- und Sehbehindertenbund e. V. in München
Tel: 0 89 / 5 59 88-0
- Allgemeiner Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Berlin gegr. 1874 e. V.
Tel: 0 30 / 8 95 88 - 0
- Blinden- und Sehbehinderten-Verband Brandenburg e. V. in Cottbus
Tel: 03 55 / 2 25 49
- Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Bremen e. V.
Tel: 04 21 / 24 40 16 - 10
- Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Hamburg e. V.
Tel: 0 40 / 20 94 04 - 0
- Blinden- und Sehbehindertenbund in Hessen e. V. in Frankfurt am Main
Tel: 0 69 / 15 05 966
- Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Mecklenburg-Vorpommern e. V. in Rostock
Tel: 03 81 / 77 89 80
- Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Niedersachsen e. V. in Hannover
Tel: 05 11 / 51 04 - 0
- Lippischer Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein e. V. in Detmold
Tel: 0 52 31 / 63 00 - 0
- Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Nordrhein e. V. in Meerbusch
Tel: 0 21 59 / 96 55 - 0
- Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Westfalen e. V. in Dortmund
Tel: 02 31 / 55 75 90 - 0
- Landesblinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Rheinland-Pfalz e. V. in Mainz
Tel: 0 61 31 / 6 93 97 36
- Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein für das Saarland e. V. in Saarbrücken
Tel: 06 81 / 81 81 81
- Blinden- und Sehbehinderten-Verband Sachsen e. V. in Dresden
Tel: 03 51 / 8 09 06 11
- Blinden- und Sehbehinderten-Verband Sachsen-Anhalt e. V. in Magdeburg
Tel: 03 91 / 2 89 62 39
- Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Schleswig-Holstein e. V. in Lübeck
Tel: 04 51 / 40 85 08 - 0
- Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Thüringen e. V. in Weimar
Tel: 036 43 / 74 29 07
For further information:
Office of the Federal Returning Officer
tel: +49 611 75-4863