All important questions and answers about the 2022 Presidential election in Austria

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Before the federal presidential election, many questions may still arise. We have an overview of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the presidential election on October 9, 2022.

Federal presidential election 2022: Who can vote?
Answer: Every Austrian citizen who will be 16 years old on election day (October 9) at the latest may vote in the federal presidential election. The only exception: legally convicted persons may be deprived of their right to vote by a judge if they have served a prison sentence of more than five years for intentional offenses or at least one year for crimes directed against the state.

Who can I vote for?
Either the incumbent Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen for another six years – or one of the six other candidates, Michael Brunner, Gerald Grosz, Walter Rosenkranz, Heinrich Staudinger, Tassilo Wallentin, or Dominik Wlazny.

Do I have to vote in the BP election?
Since 2004, voting for the election of the Federal President has been no longer compulsory throughout Austria. Until then, some federal states had imposed such a requirement by state law.

How do I find my polling station?
Suppose you live in a municipality with more than 1,000 inhabitants (but also in many smaller ones), on the Official Election Information, which comes to your house by mail on September 26. In smaller towns, there must be a notice in the municipal office. You can also look for your polling station on the Internet: Either on the homepage of the respective municipality or the Ministry of the Interior, where the list of polling stations, including opening hours, will be available soon.

Where can I vote?
Since the introduction of absentee voting, you can vote everywhere and even before the election Sunday – but only with a polling card. Without one, you can only vote on October 9 at “your” polling station in your residence. With a polling card, you can cast your vote by mail, messenger, or in person as soon as you receive it – and on election Sunday, you can also cast your vote at an “unfamiliar” polling station or home if you are incapacitated and have requested a visit by a “flying electoral authority.”

How do I get a voting card for the BP election 2022?
You must apply for one in the municipality where you are registered as a voter. This can be done in person directly at the municipal office (in Vienna at the magistrate’s office), in writing (by e-mail, fax, or post), and electronically – the latter either via the “Digitales Amt” app, the websites www.oesterreich.gv.at or https://www.wahlkartenantrag.at or directly via the website of your home municipality. You have until Wednesday, October 5, 2022 (in writing) or Friday, October 7 (in person or when picked up by an authorized person) to do so – although it should be noted that by then, it will probably already be too late for postal voting. Austrians abroad with an “election card subscription” will automatically receive their election card by mail or can request the election card from the competent representative authority.

Do I need an ID to be able to vote? What do I need to take with me to vote?
Yes, an ID card must be shown at the polling station. You do not need to have the Official Election Information with you – but you do need a polling card if you requested one and did not use it for absentee voting.

Who are the people at the polling station?
The “boss” at the polling place is the election official, usually a civil servant. The other people are either his support staff – or representatives of the parties. Three are “assessors” (provided by the parties according to the last National Council election results). They are part of the electoral authority and may help decide, for example, whether a ballot is valid. Confidential counselors (a maximum of two per party) may only participate in the deliberations but not vote. In addition, election witnesses may still be present at the polling station, also a maximum of two per party. They can continuously inform the outside world – for example, who has already voted – because official secrecy does not apply to them.

How much time do I have in the voting booth?
That’s not in the law. But the election official could ask you to leave the voting booth if they feel that you are trying to prevent others from voting.

Can I use the telephone in the voting booth?
This is not regulated by law. In principle, the election official allows it if you do not disturb others.

May I photograph and post my completed ballot?
That is not prohibited. This is because the secrecy of the ballot, enshrined in the constitution, protects voters from having their vote made public against their will. So photographing and posting someone else’s poll without their consent would be illegal.

Can I let my child fill out the ballot?
No, the ballot paper must be filled out by the child themself – it also applies here that “the right to vote must be exercised in person.” Only physically or sensory impaired voters may be assisted.

May I take my child with me to the voting booth?
A small child indeed may. But in any case, it is the decision of the electoral authority. They must take into account the duty of supervision but also that the secrecy of the ballot is not violated.

Due to health restrictions, I can’t put a cross on the ballot myself. May someone help me?

Yes, voters with physical or sensory disabilities may be assisted – at the polling station – by a person they have chosen. However, it would help if you did not cheat: anyone who falsely claims to be blind or disabled can be fined up to 218 euros or imprisoned for up to two weeks.

Can I take my dog to the voting booth?
This is not prohibited by law. But the election official could deny it if it disturbs the peace. This is because the election official has to “ensure that peace and order are maintained during the election process.” If he forbids something, you should comply with it. Because violating these orders is considered an administrative offense, you can be fined up to 218 euros or receive two-week substitute imprisonment.

Can I put my ballot paper (in an envelope) into the ballot box myself?
Yes. This is now expressly permitted by law – after the Constitutional Court ruled in its annulment of the 2016 federal presidential runoff election that only the election official is allowed to do this. However, the latter may continue to do so if you prefer.

May I fold the ballot paper into a paper airplane and hand it in like this (in the envelope)?
Yes, but only if it is still legible. Otherwise, it is invalid, meaning the vote will not be counted.

Can I make drawings on the ballot paper?
Yes, but only in such a way that it is still clearly recognizable who you voted for.

May I make drawings on my ballot envelope?
No, there is a penalty of up to 218 euros or two weeks’ substitute imprisonment for doing so. “It is forbidden to put words, remarks or signs on the ballot envelopes” – because this would allow the vote to be attributed to the person, i.e., the secrecy of the ballot would be violated.

May I write another candidate on the ballot paper who is not printed there?

In principle, yes – but this makes your vote invalid. This is because you cannot vote for a candidate not on the ballot paper.

What can I do if I have marked the wrong party?
Suppose you have already thrown the ballot paper into the box, nothing more. If not, you can ask the election authority for a new ballot – but then you must immediately tear up the incorrectly filled out ballot so that you cannot vote twice. It would help if you pocketed the paper scraps yourself to preserve the secrecy of the ballot.

I have already received a voting card. Can I vote right away?
Yes. You can drop the completed and signed voting card in the mailbox right away – or you can drop it off at the district electoral authority printed on it or have someone else take it there.

Can I vote right away when I pick up my absentee ballot at the municipal or district office?
In 15 statutory cities – Vienna, the larger cities, also Rust – you can fill out the electoral card right away, sign it and return it. This is because these are districts; the electoral card may only be handed in at district electoral offices before election day. All other municipalities are no longer allowed to accept these election cards. When it annulled the 2016 federal presidential election, the Constitutional Court insisted on the requirement that the competent election authority keep election documents safe.

When do I have time to decide if I want to return the absentee ballot by mail?
In Austria, by Saturday, October 8, shortly before 9:00 a.m. at the latest – if the nearest mailbox is not far away. This is because on Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. onwards, the post office will empty all mailboxes and take the absentee ballots to the district electoral authorities. You do not have to pay postage; the federal government bears that. Abroad, you have to decide so quickly that the absentee ballot arrives at the district electoral authority de facto by Sunday – de facto Friday.

Can I also cast my vote at a polling station in another province?
Yes, and you can vote with a polling card at any polling station in Austria. You can also fill out the absentee ballot in advance and then hand it in yourself or have it delivered by a messenger – or you can exchange the absentee ballot at the polling station for a “normal” ballot.

I will be abroad on election Sunday, or I will live abroad. Can I still vote?
Yes, and you can vote by absentee ballot. For this, you need an absentee ballot. This allows you to send in your vote before the election Sunday, before you leave Austria or from your residence abroad. The following applies here: Watch out for the delivery deadlines! In the EU or Switzerland, you can also hand in your voting card at an Austrian representative authority (embassy) until October 3; in non-EU countries, this is possible until September 30.

I didn’t pick up my voting card from the post office in time. Can I still vote?
If you have applied for an election card, you can only cast your vote with it. But you can still get your absentee ballot on the weekend of the election if you stay at the place you gave as your delivery address. This is because municipal election authorities must collect undelivered absentee ballots from the post office and hand them out to voters on October 9. You can find out where your polling card is by calling the Ministry of the Interior hotline, 0800/20 22 20 on Saturday and +43/01/53126-2470 on Sunday.

Where will counting votes occur, and is it allowed to watch?
No, voters are not allowed to watch the counting, which takes place at the polling station. The electoral regulations stipulate that the polling station must be closed for the counting. Only the members of the electoral authority (electoral officer, assessor), their auxiliary bodies, the parties’ trusted representatives, and election witnesses – and any election observers from the OSCE – are allowed to be present.

When can the first results of the federal presidential election be known?
The polls close at 5 p.m. for federal presidential elections. Many polling stations, especially in smaller municipalities, close earlier, but their results may not be published until after the polls close. The Constitutional Court also insisted on this in 2016: even disclosure to the media and opinion research institutes before the polls close is now strictly prohibited by the election authorities.

What is the difference between “trend” and “projection”?
For a “trend,” all the precincts/municipalities/districts/election districts/provinces counted up to that point are added together. If there are few results (and, at the beginning, significantly smaller municipalities), it is hardly possible to conclude the overall effect. This is precisely what is attempted in projections – using complex models to estimate how the election will turn out Austria-wide from the development of selected small municipalities.

When will the final results of the 2022 BP election be known?
The Minister of the Interior will announce a preliminary final result on the evening of the election. However, the postal votes are still missing. They will be evaluated on Monday, October 10. So the final result will be known on Monday evening, at least for the first round of voting.

When will I know who the next Federal President is?
Either already on October 9 or 10 – or only four weeks later. To become Federal President, a candidate needs more than half of the valid votes. On October 9, six other candidates are up for election in addition to Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen – so the second round of voting could be necessary.

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