Austria’s Election Rerun May Be Delayed Over Ballot Defects

(Bloomberg) -- Austria’s Interior Ministry is reviewing whether to postpone the repeat of the presidential vote scheduled for Oct. 2 because of defective ballots.

“If it’s not possible to properly conduct the election because of an apparent manufacturing defect, then it’s my duty as overseer of the election authorities to consider postponing,” Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said in a written statement.

Austrian newspapers showed pictures on Friday of mail-in ballots that didn’t seal properly and risked not being counted. The country’s Constitutional Court annulled the results of the May 22 election because officials didn’t strictly observe procedures when tabulating the vote. Green Party politician Alexander Van der Bellen eked out a victory over Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom party of about 30,000 votes from more than 4.5 million cast.

Should the ballots need to be replaced, the new election could be pushed into next year, according to public broadcaster ORF, which cited Austria’s Institute for Parlamentarism and Democracy.

The Interior Ministry said it expects to reach a decision next week.

While the Austrian president has a largely ceremonial role, he or she can dismiss the government and call fresh elections.