Viennese Elections, COVID-19 and Queuing


Note: This is an automated translation (using DeepL) of the original German article.

City administration comissioned simulation of queues at polling stations

The aim of the project was the estimation of the necessary resources for a safe execution of the Vienna municipal and district council elections 2020 under consideration of the COVID-19 hygiene measures. In order to better estimate the effects of the measures to be taken, different scenarios were simulated, the results were compared and evaluated on behalf of the Municipal Department for Elections and various Legal Departments (MA 62).

With the help of an agent-based model, voting in the election was simulated for all 1,451 Viennese voting districts. The main focus was on the duration of the voting process, which, due to the Covid-19-related hygiene regulations, would be significantly longer than usual in this election. In addition to the delays caused by the hygiene regulations, other aspects were taken into account, such as the proportion of people with mobility restrictions per voting district, the number of polling booths per polling station, and the different timing of the voting process.

Another important aspect was the uncertainty regarding voter participation due to the presumed high percentage of postal votes. Due to COVID-19, these could not be estimated or were very difficult to estimate, which is why a large number of different assumptions were made and defined in scenarios.

Thanks to the simulation, the expected (maximum) queues for each district could be calculated and thus the critical voting districts could be identified. The length of the expected maximum queues for each Sprengel can be seen on the Sprengel map. Based on this map, the MA 62 was able to defuse bottlenecks when assigning the sprenggels to the polling stations and thus ensure a safe election.

Simulation results for maximum length of queue for each of Vienna’s electoral district (“Wahlsprengel”) Simulation results for maximum length of queue for each of Vienna’s electoral district (“Wahlsprengel”)