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A hoax about ballot papers in Germany

Elections
Fact-check

CORRECTIV Faktencheck, Germany

24 May 2019, Updated: 24 May 2019

A hoax about ballot papers in Germany

In the run-up to the EU election a picture originally circulated before the 2017 Federal German election is again doing the rounds on Facebook. It claims that election officials have been instructed to treat any votes for the AfD as invalid if the cross goes over the lines of the circle printed on the form. This claim is completely invented.

Is a cross on a ballot paper invalid if it extends outside the circle or box? A CORRECTIV fact check team looked into this claim before the 2017 Federal German election. The claim originated in an image of a ballot paper circulated on the internet that is now being shared on Facebook again. The image includes the words: “Election officials are being instructed to check that, for votes for the AfD, the cross is in the middle of the circle and does not extend over the edges. If the cross extends over the edges, the vote must be declared invalid.” This is not true.

Capture d’écran 2019-05-24 à 12.00.24.jpg

The post on the “Freiheit durch Wissen” [Freedom through Knowledge] Facebook page, dated 19 May 2019. (Screenshot and anonymisation: CORRECTIV)

In reality, both crosses shown in the image would be valid in any election. According to the German Federal Electoral Commissioner, double crosses, ticks or dots would all also be valid. The mark does not even have to be in the circle at all. The only thing that matters is that it must be obvious which politician or party is being voted for. The intention of the voter must be clearly recognisable.

In response to a 2017 query from CORRECTIV, the Federal Electoral Commissioner’s office confirmed this: “It is important that the intention of the voter is unambiguously identifiable. If the cross goes over the edges, the vote is NOT invalid.”

Our assessment:

Wholly false. An oversized cross does not make the vote invalid in Germany.

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