Last Sunday, my and one other of the 16 federal states of Germany held an election for the state's parliament. I already told you that I was going to volunteer, and here is how the day went.
Getting up much earlier than what is normal for me on a Sunday wasn't hard, because I had something to look forward to. My place is closer to the venue where we were assigned to, and so my sister passed my way, and together we walked there in just under 20 minutes.
|Entrance to the kindergarden. The yellow sign shows the covid rules that apply here.
The venue normally serves as a kindergarden. It's been several decades since I went to kindergarden myself, and to see the tiny chairs, low tables (and mini toilets!), toys and crafting materials was a reminder of those days, even though this was not my kindergarden.
|The largest room - not open to visitors - with tiny chairs.
In Ludwigsburg, of the roughly 91,000 residents, around 59,000 were invited to cast their vote. They could do so at 59 venues all across our town. At each venue, a team of volunteers was responsible for the smooth operation and strict observation of covid rules.
|Coming through the entrance door.
|First stop: show your election letter and ID to have your name checked against the register by the friendly volunteer.
|Second stop: the person behind the desk hands you your ballot paper.
|Finally, you stand in the cubicle and make your cross behind the name of your choice. Then it's back to the desk, put your ballot paper in the large container next to the desk, and leave.
Two teams of three split the day in two shifts; voting was possible from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. After that, both shifts worked together at counting.
The area covered by our venue held around 1,100 possible voters. This year, hardly surprising, many more than usual opted for voting by mail instead of visiting an election venue. We had 322 votes cast, which made for a steady stream of people coming and going, without it ever being stressful.
After each person, we wiped the inside of the cubicle with disinfectant. The pens we provided were also disinfected after every use. At the entrance, hand disinfectant was offered, and we had extra masks ready to hand out in case someone forgot theirs at home.
Of the 322 cast votes, only 2 were invalid - those voters had made their cross behind more than one name on the list, when only one was possible.
Generally, people were friendly and patient; sometimes they had to wait outside, because only a maximum number of two visitors were allowed to enter the venue at the same time. Sometimes it took us a while to find them in the register, which meant another short wait for them.
An elderly gentleman, almost completely blind, came to cast his vote, and told us that his wife had meant to vote as well but was sick at home. It was admirable that he walked to the venue and back on his own, at his age and with his condition! But he and his wife obviously took their democratic rights seriously, and so did we.
After the counting (which was done rather quickly - it does not take all that long for six people to go through 322 ballots, even with double-checking), our team manager transmitted the results by phone to our town hall. The ballots were packed up, ready to be delivered to town hall later.
My sister had brought a bottle of sparkling wine and glasses for six, and one of the others had made savoury snacks as well as muffins for all.
It had been an interesting day, serious work but fun, thanks to the great team and the many good people coming to our venue.