Press release no. 29/21 of August 25, 2021

2021 Bundestag Election: information for blind and visually impaired voters and on polling station accessibility

WIESBADEN – At the Bundestag election on 26 September 2021, 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. “Ballot paper templates are provided free of charge by the Land associations of the German Association of Blind and Visually Impaired People (DBSV)”, said Federal Returning Officer Georg Thiel.

People 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: The ballot paper template with the enclosed information CD has to be requested from the DBSV Land association that is responsible for the municipality concerned. This is the only way to ensure that the correct template with the correct CD for the relevant constituency is sent.

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.

In addition, a pilot project will be carried out for the first time in a Bundestag election, as part of which the content of ballot papers in Nordrhein-Westfalen will be available in the form of a telephone message. After callers have dialled +49 800 000 9671-0 and entered the constituency number, the items on the relevant ballot paper will be read out to them. There will also be further information on how to use the tool.

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 indicated on the voter’s notification 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 that constituency. Apart from that, 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.

Further information on polling station accessibility and information for electoral boards and municipalities on how to set up accessible polling stations can be found on the website of the Federal Returning Officer. “We strive to make our website content accessible to the widest possible group of people. Therefore, technical and visual measures are in place on the Federal Returning Officer’s website to ensure accessibility and readability for the visually impaired”, said Federal Returning Officer Georg Thiel. The website also provides easy read information about Bundestag elections.

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: +49 621 402031
  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Südbaden e. V. in Freiburg
    tel: +49 761 36122
  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Württemberg e. V. in Stuttgart
    tel: +49 711 21060-0
  • Bayerischer Blinden- und Sehbehindertenbund e. V. in München
    tel: +49 89 55988-0
  • Allgemeiner Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Berlin gegr. 1874 e. V.
    tel: +49 30 89588-0
  • Blinden- und Sehbehinderten-Verband Brandenburg e. V. in Cottbus
    tel: +49 355 22549
  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Bremen e. V.
    tel: +49 421 244016-10
  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Hamburg e. V.
    tel: +49 40 209404-0
  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenbund in Hessen e. V. in Frankfurt am Main
    tel: +49 69 1505966
  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Mecklenburg-Vorpommern e. V. in Rostock
    tel: +49 381 778980
  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Niedersachsen e. V. in Hannover
    tel: +49 511 5104-0
  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Nordrhein e. V. in Meerbusch
    tel: +49 2159 9655-0
  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Westfalen e. V. in Dortmund
    tel: +49 231 557590-0
  • Landesblinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Rheinland-Pfalz e. V. in Mainz
    tel: +49 6131 223342
  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein für das Saarland e. V. in Saarbrücken
    tel: +49 681 818181
  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Sachsen e. V. in Dresden
    tel: +49 351 8090611
  • Blinden- und Sehbehinderten-Verband Sachsen-Anhalt e. V. in Magdeburg
    tel: +49 391 2896-239
  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Schleswig-Holstein e. V. in Lübeck
    tel: +49 451 408508-0
  • Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Thüringen e. V. in Weimar
    tel: +49 3643 742907


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