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North Rhine-Westphalia re-checking all votes after errors found

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North Rhine-Westphalia re-checking all votes after errors found
A ballot in Cologne. Photo: DPA.
11:00 CEST+02:00
Election officials in Germany's most populous state are now re-examining all vote tallies after errors were discovered in the state election a little over a week ago.

A spokesman for the North Rhine-Westphalia election authority told The Local on Tuesday that officials have asked all 128 voter districts to re-examine their vote tallies for abnormalities.

“But this is nothing unusual,” spokesman Tobias Dunkel told The Local, though he said he could not say with certainty when it had happened before.

Dunkel emphasized that any errors found are likely to be small ones, and thus would be very unlikely to change the final results.

“With a voting population of 13.5 million people, it is not going to have an influence on the results,” he said.

The review comes after the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) reported discrepancies in their results from the May 14th vote, and called for a re-examination.

In German elections, each voter gets two votes. The first is to choose a candidate directly from their constituency. Each candidate who wins in their district will get a seat. The second vote is to choose a party, which then determines how many of the remaining seats the party receives.

But in several districts, the AfD found that they had up to 10 percent of first votes, and yet 0.0 percent of second votes. Officials of a district in Mönchengladbach, for example, investigated and found that 37 second votes for the AfD had not been counted.

In another district in Erkelenz, 64 votes for the AfD had been falsely attributed to other parties, according to the Rheinische Post (RP).

Dunkel confirmed to The Local a report by RP that there had been around a dozen cases with such errors - for all parties, not just to the detriment of the AfD. He also told The Local that districts are not required to re-count their votes, but rather check for any noticeable abnormalities, like a mismatch between first and second vote counts.

Local AfD spokesman Michael Schwarzer told RP that they had found around 30 suspicious cases so far.

The initial counts after the election found that the AfD won 7.4 percent of the vote across the state, and would have 16 seats in the state parliament. But even the AfD say that it would be very unlikely for the current review to find enough voting errors for them to gain more seats.

Schwarzer said that they would need to find another 17,000 votes to make a difference.

“I find that to be very improbable but that is not the point,” he said. “We want to uncover the apparently intentionally made mistakes.”

The districts have until Tuesday evening to report the results of their reviews, and the head election official, Wolfgang Schellen, is set to present the findings to the election committee on Wednesday.

SEE ALSO: Here's how Merkel's party won a shock victory in North Rhine-Westphalia

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