Berlin - Officials are looking at whether people volunteered to help with September's election to gain access to vaccinations but then illegally rescinded their application once they'd secured a vaccination spot. In the district of Tempelhof-Schöneberg, 60 people said they were no longer willing to help with the election after receiving a vaccination certificate.
Election officials are considering an investigation and possible fines as a result, city councilor Christiane Heiß (Die Grüne) told newswire dpa following a Tagesspiegel report.
Earlier this year Berlin worked to attract election volunteers by categorising them in the third priority group for vaccination. The group became eligible for vaccination in the city's immunisation centres last month.
"A cancellation not only creates more work, but can also jeopardise the election," Heiß said. Volunteers can only rescind their applications for specific reasons such as family or work. Those stepping down for other reasons can be fined up to €500, Heiß said.
The resignations aren't limited to Tempelhof-Schöneberg. Steglitz-Zehlendorf reported 20 cancellations though no correlation could be found with the issuance of vaccination certificates.
Actually not a big deal
"In each case, individual reasons were given why a position as an election worker wouldn't be possible," city councilor Michael Karnetzki (SPD) said.
The local election administration was not concerned by the resignations and labelled them a "marginal phenomenon."
"That someone wanted a vaccination appointment could be true in certain cases," Geert Baasen, who leads the office, said. He said a more likely reason for the cancellations was because of how early his office started looking for volunteers because of the large numbers needed. The plans of volunteers may have changed since.
Voters on 26 September will elect both local and state politicians as well as a new federal parliament in a super-election that will require 34,000 volunteers in Berlin - 14,000 more than in past elections.
Tempelhof-Schöneberg alone still needs 300 to 400 additional volunteers.