60 million people are eligible to vote in the German national elections on Sunday. That night, or the next day, there is no new government. It can take weeks or months for rival parties to decide on a coalition with a majority of parliament. However, ballots will be aggregated quickly and new forms of German political affairs may be visible within hours.
The state of the election day and points to note are as follows.
8:00 am: Voting has begun. Candidates cannot campaign on this day, but some are throwing ballots.
6:00 pm (Eastern Standard Time noon): The polling place will be closed. Shortly thereafter, the first exit poll should be available. These polls can be within the percentage points of the final result. However, due to the tight races this year, it may take a few more hours for a clear image to appear. Mail ballots, which have been part of Germany’s voting system since 1957, are expected to play a huge role in pandemics, as they did in the US presidential election. Only mailed ballots received by 6 pm on Sunday will be counted.
Around 6:15 pm: The first forecast based on the ballots actually counted will be released. These will be updated throughout the evening until it is fairly clear which party is winning.
8:15 pm: Leaders of all major political parties meet to discuss the success and failure of the campaign and signal who they are willing to work with in the coalition government. This discussion is called the “elephant round” and lasts for an hour.
From 8 pm to midnight: Almost all votes should be counted.
Early morning, early morning: Election authorities will announce what is called the official temporary result. These usually occur between 2 am and 3 am, but did not arrive until 5:30 am in the last general election.