Update on postponed Austrian election: Swiss printing company promises new envelopes in 24 hours

Published by carolyn on Wed, 2016-09-14 00:05

CEO of Elco, Hans-Jörg Aerni, says he would also serve Austria with his products

By Carolyn Yeager

A SWISS PRINTING COMPANY, ELCO, HAS SAID IT CAN PRODUCE the absentee voting envelopes for the Austrian presidential election in 24 hours!

So what is it with the Social Democrat/Peoples Party coalition government deciding it needs a two-month delay to deal with the faulty envelopes for the repeat run-off election scheduled for October 2nd – still over 2 weeks away. Doesn't this make the whole hulabaloo over having to re-arrange the voting schedule look ridiculous?

On Tuesday in Switzerland, the CEO of the large printing company Elco said he has followed the debacle in Austria carefully and that "This could not happen here." To postpone the repeat runoff election for President because the glue on the voting envelopes is flawed, is absurd, Hans-Jörg Aerni said.

The article in Blick continued:

The runoff election between the FPÖ man Norbert Hofer (45) and former Greens and now independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen (72) was scheduled for 2 October. However, Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka (60, ÖVP) says it cannot be properly implemented, so he has postponed the election until December 4th, so that it can still take place in 2016.

The defective envelopes come from a German printing company.

Electoral voting envelopes in Switzerland have a quality certificate which have passed a two-way field test. "We have not been doing this just since yesterday." said Aerni. In addition to field trials, Elco also has internal controls. Each product is tested. The glue used is made "by a company in Europe," which he didn't name.

Gladly would the Swiss also supply Austria. "We would not be averse to it" Aerni admits, "but we do not actively seek it."

The delivery time would be no problem for the 300 employees of Elco. Every year they make 1.5 billion envelopes. With a daily production of eight to ten million envelopes the contract for the 6.4 million eligible voters in Austria would not take even one working day.

And there are not 6 million absentee voters, only about a million. After seeing the story in the newspaper Blick, Freedom party leader Hans-Christian Strache, who has been using the term "Absurdistan" for the government's handling of this crisis, posted this on his facebook page (roughly translated):

Thank you very much to the Swiss newspaper "Blick", that reported a swiss company could deliver within 24 hours the voting envelopes for the Austrian federal presidental election!

Thank you also to our government that it has finally shown where their priorities lie in truth. The reputation of Austria in the world, the supposedly so enormous harm that will be done should Norbert Hofer become Federal President is not the truth in the slightest. The whole world laughs at us, that our government cannot keep it's promise of it's date for elections !

And even before this message from Switzerland came out, a poster at Strache's Facebook page said the same thing (again, roughly translated):

Wilfried Seb - I am fed up with these excuses, and so had myself informed by experts yesterday and today. A friend of mine who works in Graz with the most modern printing machines said that it would be no problem at all to print the required, approximately 1 million envelopes within three days. The glue would be put in 1 hour. Cleaned. So where is the trouble, but it must be the intention to draw out the voting ...

It appears very few believe there's a need for this 2-month postponement so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I believe the liberal red/black/green coalition, as H-C Strache calls them, is very afraid they will lose this election, an outcome they see as simply unthinkable. So they are playing for time. They think they alone can keep Austria “respectable” in the eyes of the world, and thus whatever means are necessary to keep the “far-right” out of power is acceptable. Stay tuned for further developments.


Austria, News


A possible explanation for the voting envelope problem from  http://m.oe24.at/oesterreich/politik/Fekter-gab-Pannen-Druckerei-aus-ihrer-Heimat-den-Zuschlag/250820741

The printing company KBPrintcom produced the defective ballots. According to the Interior Ministry, this company won the 2010 EU-wide competition held by the former ÖVP (People's Party) Minister Maria Fekter. The striking fact is that Fekter is Vöcklabrucker ÖVP district candidate and this company  is located in - guess - Vöcklabruck! This raises many cringe-inducing questions.

In Austria, this print shop is officially the only one that can make voting cards. [...] According to Patrick Grafl of the envelope industry, what was printed was a "scaled-down" solution: only three layers of paper were glued. With a proper envelope, the edges would be folded and punched. The suspicion is that they were produced too cheaply.

Will there be an investigation?