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Electoral bodies

Electoral bodies are

  • the Federal Returning Officer and the Federal Electoral Committee for the electoral area
  • a Land returning officer and a Land electoral committee for each Land
  • a constituency returning officer and a constituency electoral committee for each constituency (at European elections, a district returning officer and a district electoral committee for each district, and a town returning officer and a town electoral committee for each town not attached to an administrative district)
  • an electoral officer and an electoral board for each polling district 
  • at least one electoral officer and one electoral board for each constituency (at European elections, for each district and for each town not attached to an administrative district) to ascertain the result of the postal ballot. 

No-one may be a member of more than one electoral body. Candidates standing for election, spokespersons for nominations and deputy spokespersons may not be appointed members of an electoral body.

Electoral bodies are entrusted with preparing and conducting elections. They are self-organising societal institutions and not bound by instructions. On principle, the electoral committees and electoral boards, who are formed from among the voters, are to direct and control the election in the decisive stages of the poll. They are a type of “self-organising body” of the electorate and thus subject only to a possible electoral scrutiny procedure. When it comes to decisions taken by the Federal Electoral Committee, however, there is recourse to the Federal Constitutional Court.

The electoral bodies are federal bodies sui generis. They perform the tasks of the Federation in the entire sphere of “Bundestag elections” or “European elections“ and exercise its sovereign power. The decisions and measures taken by them are regarded as taken by the Federation, which has to take the final responsibility. The tasks of the electoral bodies are laid down in detail in the provisions especially of the Federal Elections Act and the Federal Electoral Regulations.

Legal bases

Bundestag election:

Sections 8, 9, 18 (4) of the Federal Elections Act (BWG)
Sections 1 to 8 of the Federal Electoral Regulations (BWO)

European election:

Sections 5, 14 (4a), section 4 of the European Elections Act (EuWG) in conjunction with Section 9 of the Federal Elections Act (BWG)
Sections 4, 7 of the European Electoral Regulations (EuWO)

Last update: 1 December 2015