Press release no. 13/17 of 21. August 2017

2017 Bundestag Election: Information for blind and visually impaired voters and on polling station accessibility

WIESBADEN – At the 2017 Bundestag election, blind and visually impaired voters will be able to cast their votes on their own using ballot paper templates and will not need the assistance of a person they trust. The Federal Returning Officer also 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 Federal Government reimburses the template production costs incurred by the associations of the blind.

The upper right corner of all ballot papers have been punched or cut off so that a ballot paper template can be adjusted. For that reason, the right upper 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 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 take their ballot paper templates home afterwards to ensure the secrecy of the ballot. It will not be possible to tell from the ballot paper if a template has been used or not.

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 order such a template

  • via the nationwide DBSV hotline, +49 1805 666456 (max. 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 on the attached list.

Accessibility to the polling station 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 so that they can vote in another polling station of the constituency that is accessible. It is also possible to vote by post. More information is given on the polling card and in the instructions provided together with the postal ballot documents.

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. Such voters may choose who they want as a helper, for instance a member of the electoral board. That person may enter the polling booth together with the voter if that is necessary to provide the assistance required. However, helpers must do only what the voter wants them to do and are obliged to keep their knowledge of the vote confidential.

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

Land Associations and their telephone numbers
Baden-Württemberg Badischer Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Württemberg V.m.K., Mannheim, Telefon: 0621 / 40 20 31
Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Südbaden e.V., Freiburg, Telefon: 0761 / 3 61 22
Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Württemberg e.V., Stuttgart, Telefon: 0711 / 2 10 60-0
Bayern Bayerischer Blinden- und Sehbehindertenbund e.V, München, Telefon: 089 / 5 59 88-0
Berlin Allgemeiner Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Berlin gegr. 1874 e.V., Telefon: 030 / 8 95 88-0
Brandenburg Blinden-und-Sehbehinderten-Verband Brandenburg e.V., Cottbus, Telefon: 0355 / 2 25 49
Bremen Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Bremen e.V., Telefon: 0421 / 24 40 16-10
Hamburg Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Hamburg e. V., Telefon: 040 / 20 94 04-0
Hessen Blinden- und Sehbehindertenbund in Hessen e.V., Frankfurt/Main, Telefon: 069 / 150 59 66
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Mecklenburg-Vorpommern e.V., Rostock, Telefon: 0381 / 77 89 80 
Niedersachsen Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Niedersachsen e.V., Hannover, Telefon: 0511 / 51 04-0
Nordrhein-Westfalen Lippischer Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein  e.V., Detmold, Telefon: 05231 / 63 00-0
Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Nordrhein e.V., Meerbusch, Telefon: 0 21 59 / 96 55-0
Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Westfalen e.V., Dortmund, Telefon: 0231 / 55 75 90-0
Rheinland-Pfalz Landesblinden- und Sehbehindertenverband Rheinland-Pfalz e.V., Mainz, Telefon: 06131 / 6 93 97 36
Saarland Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein für das Saarland e.V., Saarbrücken, Telefon: 0681 / 81 81 81
Sachsen Blinden- und Sehbehinderten-Verband Sachsen e.V., Dresden, Telefon: 03 51 / 8 09 06 11
Sachsen-Anhalt Blinden- und Sehbehinderten-Verband Sachsen-Anhalt e. V., Magdeburg, Telefon: 0391 / 2 89 62 39
Schleswig-Holstein Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverein Schleswig-Holstein e.V., Lübeck, Telefon: 0451 / 40 85 08-0
Thüringen Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband  Thüringen e.V., Weimar, Telefon: 03643 / 74 29 07


For further information:
Office of the Federal Returning Officer
tel: +49 611 75-4863