How can votes be bought

AfD votes counted for the Greens : Election fraud in Brandenburg is a case for the public prosecutor

The Potsdam public prosecutor has initiated preliminary investigations into suspected election fraud in the local elections on May 26th. The background is research by the Tagesspiegel, according to which a young election worker in a polling station in the Oder-Spree district deliberately slammed votes for the AfD during the counting of the Greens.

"My heart beats on the left"

Election worker Marius Lange (name changed) confessed to the forgeries in an interview with Tagesspiegel and declared that he acted on a spontaneous impulse. In the local elections, which took place at the same time as the European elections, he had manipulated the result of the vote when counting the votes for the election of the city council.

It was not the first time that Marius Lange was an election worker. But he had never cheated before. At the polling station he was entrusted with the counting with five other helpers, he was by far the youngest. “Nobody checked me. Then I just turned a few blue votes green, "he says - counting ballot papers for the AfD as crosses for the Greens.

As a motive, he cites his political convictions: “My heart beats on the left.” That is why he did not want to accept that the right-wing populist party was so popular with voters. In the local elections in May, the AfD won 15.9 percent of the vote nationwide.

Marius Lange describes the process of counting votes in the polling station on the evening of May 26th as follows: At 6 p.m. punctually, the first envelopes with the postal ballot papers were opened. First the votes for the European elections, then those of the local elections were counted - first postal vote, then ballot box, the district council before the city council.

Double digit number of votes could be wrong

In the case of the latter, Lange finally manipulated the count. One of those present unfolded the ballot paper and read out which candidate had received how many of the three votes to be given. The other election workers had the lists of the parties standing for election in front of them.

"I had the lists of the Greens, the AfD and a small regional party whose name I don't remember," says Lange. "If one of the AfD candidates has received several votes, I just crossed off one digit and the rest of a candidate from the Greens." He can't say exactly how many votes he faked, but it could have been at least 50.

Election workers could be sentenced to imprisonment

Marius Lange has committed a criminal offense with it, he is aware of this: According to Section 107a of the Criminal Code, voting fraud is punishable by a fine or, in special cases, even with a prison sentence of up to five years.

In principle, every citizen who is entitled to vote can also become an election worker. According to the Brandenburg electoral law, at least five members of the electoral board must be present during the count. A four-eyes principle is not mandatory.

The probability of being caught manipulating is relatively low, says Sascha Gehm. “However, the criminals always have to be lucky here too, the police only once.” Wolfgang is the district election officer in the Oder-Spree district of Brandenburg. The 37-year-old CDU politician doesn't seem particularly worried when he hears Marius Lange's story. He could not understand the meaning of the action.

“I move very little with it. We may be talking here at the municipal level about whether elementary school A or B will get the new facade painting next year. Do I take on myself to possibly have a criminal record? I think that's a pretty stupid crime. It is irrational to make this effort with the probability of detection. "

Municipalities have problems finding election workers

The District Returning Officer is certain: Major election manipulations would definitely attract attention. In the counting system, however, there could be slight shifts to a small extent. “There is no such thing as a one hundred percent four-eye system. But that's not a secret either, ”says Gehm. “That has been accepted with the system. In the state and federal elections, however, the system is different. "

If one wanted to implement the four-eyes principle in local elections, either double lists would have to be kept or the electoral boards would have to be doubled so that other election workers could monitor the counting process. But the decision was made against it because otherwise the electoral boards would have become very large and the counting would take much longer.

In addition, it would not be feasible in terms of personnel, says Gehm. Even now, some communities have difficulties in mobilizing enough election workers. “At times it was very difficult to find people in the communities.

In principle, it is easier for the municipalities that pay higher compensation. This is currently between 30 and 60 euros, depending on the municipality. ”The politician believes that the monetary incentive should not be the focus, but rather the joy of helping to make democracy work.

Election workers motivated by xenophobic sentiment

The Brandenburg state returning officer did not want to comment on the specific incident, but indicated that a criminal offense had been committed. His spokeswoman also said that no statement could be made on special cases that only affect certain electoral districts. Incidentally, the counting of votes takes place publicly and can be observed by citizens.

From the community

A completely stupid action. Firstly, it should be part of the essence of a democracy that elections run correctly, and secondly, something like that is only ammunition for the AfD's victim role.

... writes user adur

So it remains unclear whether there was any further manipulation of the count on May 26th in addition to this case. In the polling districts, at least the chairman of the electoral board and his representative are public employees, explains district returning officer Sascha Gehm. There are also well-rehearsed teams in some polling stations, where they meet again every four or five years. There is a certain routine in the counting procedure there.

Marius Lange says that he became an election worker mainly because of the expense allowance and that he had never cheated before. He acted spontaneously, also because he wanted to defend himself against the increasingly xenophobic mood in the country. “It's all a lot worse than in Berlin,” says the young man.

“Here in Brandenburg it is now again good form to call a colored person a negro. When we sit together with the boys in the football club in the evening, somebody always makes a Negro joke - and everyone laughs without thinking. When he walks through town with a good friend whose father is an Iraqi, he is regularly referred to as "Kanacke". When he visits friends in western Germany, it is not like that.

Marius Lange is aware that he made himself a criminal offense by falsifying the election, but he would do it again. Also because it was so easy. That's why he wants his case to be reported. His fear is that if the fraud works so easily in one direction, then in the other too. Lange knows that many Brandenburgers are dissatisfied with the political mood - some for completely different reasons than himself.

In an older version of this article it was said that the Potsdam public prosecutor had already started investigations. That's not the case. The authority is currently still checking whether there is any initial suspicion.

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