Global Initiative to Enfranchise People with Disabilities: Germany - www.electionaccess.org
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Germany

General Right to Vote
Constitution
Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
(1949, last amended 2006)

  • Article 38 states, “(1) Members of the German Bundestag shall be elected in general, direct, free and secret elections. They shall be representatives of the whole people, not bound my borders or instructions, and responsible only to their conscience. (2) Any person who has attained the age of eighteen shall be entitled to vote; any person who has attained the age of majority may be elected.”

Electoral Law
Federal Elections Act
(1993, last amended 2009)

  • Section 1, subsection (1) states, “...They [the Bundestag] shall be elected in a general, direct, free, equal and secret ballot by the Germans eligible to vote...”

Specific Inclusion of People with Disabilities
Constitution
Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
(1949, last amended 2006)

  • Article 3, section (3) states, “No person shall be favoured or disfavoured because of sex, parentage, race, language, homeland and origin, faith, or religious or political opinions. No person shall be disfavoured because of disability.”

Exclusion Based on Intellectual Disability
Electoral Law
Federal Elections Act
(1993, last amended 2009)

  • Section 13 states, “A person shall be disqualified from voting if...1. He or she is not eligible to vote owing to a judicial decision, 2. A custodian has been appointed not long through a restraining order to attend to all his or her affairs; this also applies when the custodian’s sphere of duties does not include the affairs set forth in Section 1896 paragraph (4) and Section 1905 of the Civil Code (Bǚrgerliches Gesetzbuch), 3. He or she is accommodated in a psychiatric hospital under an order pursuant to Section 63 of the Penal Code in conjunction with Section 20 of the Penal Code.”
  • Section 15, subsection (2) states, “A person shall be ineligible to stand for election if he or she...1. Is disqualified from voting under Section 13.”

Voter Assistance
Electoral Law
Federal Elections Act
(1993, last amended 2009)

  • Section 33, subsection (2) states, “A voter who is illiterate or who due to a physical handicap is prevented from marking the ballot paper, from folding it, or from placing it into the ballot box himself or herself may be aided by another person.”
  • Section 36 regards the postal ballot and states that “Section 33 paragraph (2) shall apply as appropriate.”
  • Section 36, subsection (2) states, “The voter or the person assisting him or her must indicate on the polling card that he or she gives an assurance in lieu of an oath to the Constituency Returning Officer that the ballot paper has been marked either personally or in accordance with the declared intent of the voter. The Constituency Returning Officer shall be responsible for accepting such an assurance in lieu of an oath; he or she shall be considered an authority within the meaning of Section 156 of the Penal Code.”

Federal Electoral Regulations
(1994, last amended 2008)

  • Section 18 (Procedure for Registration in the Voter’s Register on Request) states, “...A person eligible to vote who is disabled may to this end avail himself or herself of another person’s assistance. Section 57 shall apply as appropriate.”
  • Section 27 (Application for Polling Cards), subsection (1) states, “A person eligible to vote who is disabled may avail himself or herself of another person’s assistance to submit the application; Section 57 shall apply as appropriate.”
  • Section 46, subsection (1) states, “The polling stations shall be selected and equipped in accordance with the local conditions so as to make it as easy as possible for the entire electorate, and in particular for disabled persons and persons with restricted mobility, to participate in the election. The local authorities of the communes shall announce in good time and in appropriate form which of the polling stations are barrier-free.”
  • Section 57 (Voting by Disabled Persons) states...
  •  A voter who is unable to read or who is prevented from marking or folding the ballot paper or putting it in the ballot box due to a physical limitation shall designate another person of whose assistance the voter wishes to avail himself or herself for casting his or her vote and intimate this to the Electoral Board. The helper may also be a member of the Electoral Board designated by the voter.
  • The assistance rendered must be limited to the fulfillment of the voter’s wishes. The helper may go the polling booth together with the voter if the nature of the assistance to be rendered so demands.
  • The helper is bound not to disclose any knowledge obtained while rendering another person assistance in casting his or her vote.
  • A blind or visually impaired voter may also use a ballot paper template for marking the ballot paper.”
  • Section 66 (Postal Ballots), subsection (3) states, “The ballot paper shall be marked and put in the ballot paper envelope without being observed; Section 56(8) shall apply as appropriate. If the voter has had his or her ballot paper marked by a helper, the latter shall affirm that he or she has marked the ballot in accordance with the stated wish of the voter by signing the affidavit regarding the postal ballot; the helper must have completed the sixteenth year of age.”

Off-Site Voting
Electoral Law
Federal Elections Act
(1993, last amended 2009)

  • Section 52, subsection (1) states, “The Federal Ministry of the Interior shall issue the Federal Electoral Regulations necessary for the implementation of this Law. It shall in particular include therein statutory provisions regarding...15. Voting in hospitals and nursing institutions, monasteries and convents, residential premises with limited access as well as sociotherapeutic and penal institutions.”

Federal Electoral Regulations
(1994, last amended 2008)

  • Section 8 states, “Mobile Electoral Boards are to be appointed wherever necessary and possible for voting in smaller hospitals, smaller senior citizens’ or nursing homes, monasteries, convents and socio-therapeutic and penal institutions.”
  • Section 13, subsection (1) states, “For hospitals, senior citizens’ homes, nursing homes for the elderly, nursing homes, convalescent homes and similar establishments with a sizable number of persons who are eligible to vote, but who are unable to go to a polling station outside the establishment, the local authority of the commune is to form whatever special polling districts are required to enable polling card holders to cast their votes.”
  • Section 62 contains the specific provisions for voting in smaller hospitals and smaller senior citizens’ or nursing homes.
  • Section 64 contains the specific provisions for voting in socio-therapeutic and penal institutions.
  • Section 66, subsection (4) concerns postal voting in hospitals, nursing and residential homes, convalescent homes, and socio-therapeutic and penal institutions.



 
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