Germany: Facilitating multichannel voting for Germans around the world

Online voting boosts participation for Germany’s expats

In Germany, social elections are held every six years, allowing eligible voters to choose the self-governance council that oversees health and pension insurance funds. With an electorate of approximately 52 million eligible voters, these elections rank as Germany’s third largest, following the European Parliament and German federal elections.

Smartmatic’s election technology played a pivotal role in the social elections for the health insurance funds held April 11 to May 31, 2023. Working with its technology partner, regio iT, Smartmatic delivered online voting for remote participation. In collaboration with printing partner, Bertelsmann Campaign, Smartmatic also provided the country’s second largest health insurance fund, Barmer, with centralized electronic counting to process paper ballots cast via post.

Multichannel voting

German voters, like voters in other countries, are demanding more convenient methods for casting ballots. According to data collected by Bunderswahlleiter, the authority responsible for overseeing federal-level elections in Germany, the share of ballots cast by post has increased from 4.9% in 1957 to 28.6% in 2017. Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, this number reached a staggering 47.3% in 2021. Providing an online voting alternative was, therefore, a logical step.

Smartmatic helps election authorities to facilitate and protect voting. In Germany, Smartmatic facilitated the election organizing health insurance funds by deploying two distinct solutions: online voting and electronic ballot counting.

Online voting

Smartmatic’s online voting system, TIVI, was offered to voters electing representatives for any five of the main health insurance companies (TK, Barmer, DAK-Gesundheit, KKH and hkk). Nearly 22.3 million of the 52 million voters were eligible to participate online. These voters also had the option to cast traditional postal ballots. The cutting-edge digital voting system was available during a 51-day voting period.

TIVI offers the convenience and flexibility to securely cast a verifiable ballot using a smartphone, laptop, tablet or desktop anytime, anywhere. Designed and developed by the team behind Estonia’s voting system, TIVI has been used successfully in elections in the United States, Norway, Mexico and other countries.

Electronic counting

For health insurance fund, Barmer, Smartmatic deployed a central electronic counting solution for processing traditional postal ballots.

Smartmatic was responsible for receiving and sorting the ballot envelopes, and after close of polls, efficiently opening them, extracting the ballots, and then electronically counting the postal votes and consolidating the postal with the online results.

Equipped with 20 high-speed optical ballot scanners, 140 workers securely processed nearly 1.5 million postal ballots. Running Smartmatic’s software, the scanners quickly and securely digitized and counted the votes as marked on the paper ballots, retaining an additional auditable paper trail to make the election more transparent.