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Invalid votes

At Bundestag elections, votes shall be invalid if the ballot paper

  • has not been officially produced under the authority of the government,
  • shows no marking,
  • is valid for another constituency,
  • does not reveal the voter’s intent beyond any doubt,
  • contains any addendum or reservation.

In the first two cases, both votes shall be invalid. In the third case, only the first vote shall be invalid, provided that the ballot paper is valid for another constituency of the same Land.

Where only one vote has been cast on the ballot paper, the vote not cast shall be invalid.

In postal ballots, both votes shall be invalid also if the ballot paper has been submitted in an envelope which is not an official ballot paper envelope or which evidently differs from the other envelopes in a manner endangering the secrecy of the ballot, or which contains a distinctly tangible object but has not been rejected for these reasons.

Several ballot papers in one ballot paper envelope shall be regarded as one ballot paper if the markings are identical or if only one of them has been marked; otherwise they shall count as one ballot paper with two invalid votes.

If the ballot paper envelope has been submitted empty, both votes shall be considered to be invalid.

The same shall apply at European elections subject to the proviso that there are no constituencies in such elections.

 

Invalid votes at Bundestag and European elections
Bundestag eletion European Parliament election
Election year Invalid Election year Invalid votes
First votes Second votes
number % number % number %
1949 1 2 763,216 3.1      
1953 2 959,790 3.4 928,278 3.3      
1957 916,680 3.0 1,167,466 3.8      
1961 845,158 2.6 1,298,723 4.0      
1965 979,158 2.9 795,765 2.4      
1969 809,548 2.4 557,040 1.7      
1972 457,810 1.2 301,839 0.8      
1976 470,109 1.2 343,253 0.9      
          1979 251,763 0.9
1980 485,645 1.3 353,195 0.9      
1983 434,176 1.1 338,841 0.9      
          1984 387,383 1.5
1987 482,481 1.3 357,975 0.9      
          1989 301,908 1.1
1990 3 720,990 1.5 540,143 1.1      
1994 788,643 1.7 632,825 1.3 1994 884,115 2.4
1998 780,507 1.6 638,575 1.3      
          1999 409,659 1.5
2002 741,037 1.5 586,281 1.2      
          2004 739,426 2.8
2005 850,072 1.8 756,146 1.6      
2009 757,575 1.7 634,385 1.4 2009 590,170 2.2
2013 684,883 1.5 583,069 1.3      
          2014 488,706 1.6
2017 586,726 1.2 460,849 1.0      
          2019 410,857 1.1
2021 492,495 1.1 412,485 0.9      

1  Each voter had only one vote.
2  Without Saarland.
3  Since 1990: Territory of the Federal Republic of Germany as of 3 October 1990.

Legal bases

Bundestag election:

Section 39 of the Federal Elections Act (BWG)

European election:

Section 4 of the European Elections Act (EuWG) in conjunction with Section 39 of the Federal Elections Act (BWG)

Last update: 27 October 2021