No e-voting in Germany

By EDRi · March 11, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Keine E-Wahlen in Deutschland |]

Macedonian: [Нема е-гласање во Германија |,mk/]

The German Federal Constitutional Court decided on 3 March 2009 that
electronic voting used for the last 10 years, including for the 2005 general
elections, was unconstitutional and therefore not to be used for the next
elections in September 2009.

The court ruled that the use of the electronic machines contradicts the
public nature of elections and the equipment used in 2005 had some
shortcomings. However, as there has been no evidence of errors in the
past, the results of the previous elections remain valid.

The use of e-voting was challenged by political scientist Joachim Wiesner
and his son, physicist Ulrich Wiesner who complained that the system was not
transparent because the voter could not check what actually happened to his
vote, being actually asked to blindly trust the technology. The voting
machines which are manufactured by the Dutch firm Nedap, do not print out
receipts. In the plaintiffs’ opinion, the results could be manipulated.

A petition signed by over 45 000 people in 2005, trying to ban e-voting, had
been rejected by the German Government. Now, the court ruled that the
Federal Voting Machines Ordinance having introduced e-voting was
unconstitutional because it did not “ensure that only such voting machines
are permitted and used which meet the constitutional requirements of the
principle of the public nature of elections.”

Also the court considered that, differently from the traditional voting
system where manipulations and frauds are much more difficult involving a
high degree of effort and a high risk of detection, “programming errors in
the software or deliberate electoral fraud committed by manipulating the
software of electronic voting machines can be recognised only with
difficulty.” Also, in the court’s opinion, the electors should be able to
verify how their vote is recorded without having to possess detailed
computer knowledge. “If the election result is determined through
computer-controlled processing of the votes stored in an electronic memory,
it is not sufficient if merely the result of the calculation process carried
out in the voting machine can be taken note of by means of a summarising
printout or an electronic display.”

A campaign against electronic voting has been initiated by EDRi member Chaos
Computer Club together with the Dutch foundation Wij vertrouwen
stemcomputers niet (We don’t trust voting computers) because of the risk of
electronic errors and the potential for abuse.

After a group of hackers had succeeded in tampering with similar machines in
the Netherlands in 2006, the Dutch Government imposed a moratorium on the
use of electronic voting machines and Ireland also has banned electronic

German Court Rules E-Voting Unconstitutional (3.03.2009),,4069101,00.html

Federal Constitutional Court – Press release on Use of voting computers in
2005 Bundestag election unconstitutional (3.03.2009)

Voting machines unconstitutional in Germany (3.03.2009)

EDRi-gram: Electronic voting machines eliminated in the Netherlands