VIENNA, Sept. 12 (UPI) — Austria’s presidential election was postponed for a second time, this time because of malfunctioning ballot envelopes, the interior minister said Monday.
The election was to be held on October 2, but Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka announced that some envelopes for mail-in ballots have defective sealing glue.
Parliamentary leaders met with Sobotka Monday and declared December 4 the new date of the election.
“I must recognize that a ballot-card production error is the reason why we cannot guarantee an election that is irreproachably in conformity with the law. We cannot estimate today how many and which of these ballot cards could still open,” Sobotka, who oversees elections, said in announcing the postponement.
An opened envelope received by the election board would invalidate the vote it contained.
Although the Austrian presidency is largely a ceremonial position, the election is hotly contested and closely watched. Center-left candidate Alexander Van der Bellen is running against Norbert Hofer of the anti-immigrant Freedom Party. Van der Bellen won a runoff election in May by about 30,000 votes, of over 4.5 million cast. Austria’s Constitutional Court nullified the election in July, citing improprieties in how some mail-in ballots were counted, prompting the October 2 recasting of ballots.
Sobotka said Monday the company that has printed ballots for over a dozen Austrian elections is responsible for the defective envelopes, adding another company will now print ballots and manufacture the envelopes.