Press release no. 37/21 of 14. September 2021

Each voter has two votes in the 2021 Bundestag Election

WIESBADEN – As in the previous Bundestag elections, each voter will have two votes in the election to the 20th German Bundestag on 26 September 2021:

  • a first vote to be cast for a constituency candidate (on the left-hand side of the ballot paper, printed in black), and
  • a second vote to be cast for a party’s Land list with all candidates nominated by the party in the order specified on the list (on the right-hand side of the ballot paper, printed in blue).

“Only one candidate or list may be marked on each half of the ballot paper, for instance by putting an x into the printed circles”, said Federal Returning Officer Dr. Georg Thiel. If more than one constituency candidate is marked on the left-hand side of the ballot paper, the first vote will be invalid. If several marks are made on the right-hand side of the ballot paper (Land lists of the parties), the second vote will be invalid.

The first and the second vote may be cast separately, they do not have to go to one single party. Instead, the vote may be “split” by casting the first vote for the constituency candidate of one party and the second vote for the Land list of another party (“vote splitting”).

Alternatively, the voter may cast only one vote, either the first or the second vote. Then the vote not cast will be considered invalid.

With the first vote, the voter has a direct influence on the composition of the German Bundestag in terms of its members. That vote determines 299 Bundestag members. The second vote is essential for the political composition of the Bundestag as the seats are distributed among the parties in accordance with the number of second votes they have obtained in all of Germany. This means that the second vote is the decisive vote.


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