Press

Press release no. 17/19 of April 29, 2019

2019 European Election: information for blind and visually impaired voters and on polling station accessibility

WIESBADEN – At the 2019 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 in all of Germany since the 2002 Bundestag Election and the 2004 European Election. The associations of the blind are reimbursed the costs of template production by the Federal Government.

To help blind and visually impaired voters orient themselves, all ballot papers have been punched in the upper right corner. For that reason, the upper right corners of the ballot paper templates have been cut off as well. Together with each template, information is supplied on the structure of the template and on the ballot paper. Depending on the Land association, that information is in Braille, on an audio CD, in DAISY format or in large print. This enables blind and visually impaired voters to mark their ballot paper on their own in the polling booth on election day or before if they vote by post. Those casting their vote at the polling station should however take their ballot paper template home afterwards to ensure the secrecy of the ballot.

Persons wishing to vote with the help of a ballot paper template do not have to be members of an association of the blind. They may request such a template from the DBSV Land associations (see list at the end of this press release). Important note: As the ballot paper size may differ between Länder and as the parties standing for election have Land lists in addition to their federal list, the ballot paper template and the relevant information material have to be requested from the DBSV Land association that is responsible for the municipality concerned.

Polling station accessibility is particularly important for voters with limited mobility. Each voter’s notification states whether the polling station is accessible or not and where information can be obtained on accessible polling stations and aids. If the polling station is not accessible, voters may apply for a polling card to be issued so that he or she can vote in another, accessible polling station of the district 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 always possible to vote by post.

People who are not able to read, have inadequate reading skills or, due to a physical impairment, are not able to mark the ballot paper on their own, fold it or put it into the ballot box, may be assisted by another person at the polling station or in postal voting. They may choose who they want as a helper. For instance, members of the electoral board may help them cast their vote. The helper may enter the polling booth together with the voter if necessary. However, the helper must only fulfil the wishes of the voter and is obliged to keep confidential his or her knowledge thus obtained.

Upon request, the following DBSV Land associations will provide blind and visually impaired voters with free ballot paper templates:

Baden-Württemberg

  • 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

Bayern

  • Bayerischer Blinden- und Sehbehindertenbund e. V. in München
    Tel: 0 89 / 5 59 88-0

Berlin

  • Allgemeiner Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Berlin gegr. 1874 e. V.
    Tel: 0 30 / 8 95 88 - 0

Brandenburg

  • Blinden- und Sehbehinderten-Verband Brandenburg e. V. in Cottbus
    Tel: 03 55 / 2 25 49

Bremen

  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Bremen e. V.
    Tel: 04 21 / 24 40 16 - 10

Hamburg

  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Hamburg e. V.
    Tel: 0 40 / 20 94 04 - 0

Hessen

  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenbund in Hessen e. V. in Frankfurt am Main
    Tel: 0 69 / 15 05 966

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Mecklenburg-Vorpommern e. V. in Rostock
    Tel: 03 81 / 77 89 80

Niedersachsen

  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Niedersachsen e. V. in Hannover
    Tel: 05 11 / 51 04 - 0

Nordrhein-Westfalen

  • 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

Rheinland-Pfalz

  • Landesblinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Rheinland-Pfalz e. V. in Mainz
    Tel: 0 61 31 / 22 33 42

Saarland

  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein für das Saarland e. V. in Saarbrücken
    Tel: 06 81 / 81 81 81

Sachsen

  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Sachsen e. V. in Dresden
    Tel: 03 51 / 80 90 611

Sachsen-Anhalt

  • Blinden- und Sehbehinderten-Verband Sachsen-Anhalt e. V. in Magdeburg
    Tel: 03 91 / 28 96 - 239

Schleswig-Holstein

  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Schleswig-Holstein e. V. in Lübeck
    Tel: 04 51 / 40 85 08 - 0

Thüringen

  • 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
www.bundeswahlleiter.de/conact