Who Counts, Counts: An Exploratory Analysis of How Local Authorities Organise the Electoral Count in Germany’s Most Populous State
Forthcoming, German Politics
33 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2017 Last revised: 5 Oct 2018
Date Written: September 28, 2018
The organisation of the electoral counting process is a complex task that, in Germany, is delegated to local authorities. This article presents novel data from a representative survey of local communities in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, to describe and to explain the variation of the ways in which the electoral count for major elections is organised. The findings are: (1) local communities differ greatly in the ways they recruit poll workers for election day and in the ways the counting teams are composed; (2) the inclusion of parties in the recruitment of poll workers, the only main prescription in the legal framework, is not heeded by one third of all local communities, and (3) most importantly, actual election results such as the proportion of invalid votes systematically and widely co-vary with the ways in which local authorities organise the counting process – a pattern that should not exist. This article discusses the implications of these patterns for the electoral integrity of Germany during the electoral administration process.
Keywords: Election, North Rhine Westphalia, Local Politics, Poll Workers, Counting
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