Invalid voting slips from the postponed mayoral vote in the western German city of Cologne have appeared on the auction website eBay. Proceeds from the first sale will be donated to an organization helping refugees.
Following the postponement of Cologne's mayoral election - scheduled to take place last Sunday - to October 18, a number of void ballot papers have since appeared on auction website eBay.
The first such voting slip to go under the online hammer attracted 13 bids from seven different users. Listed as a "historical document," it was eventually snapped up for 26.06 euros (roughly $30).
"It comes with a ballot envelope, election letter and information from the City of Cologne regarding postal vote," the advert read.
"Warning: The ballot paper is no longer eligible for use in Cologne's mayoral election. Private sale - no warranty, no redemption."
Plan to help refugees
Behind the curious auction, however, was a well-intentioned plan. EBay seller "jr_kotza," known offline as Sabine Büttner, told DW that the money raised in the auction will be donated to a local organization helping newly arrived refugees.
Büttner said the idea to sell the ballot paper came from a campaign led by local German broadcaster WDR Lokalzeit where she works as a reporter.
"The buyer of the voting slip was so enthusiastic about the idea of donating the money that he gave another 200 euros. That kind of money can buy, for example, learning materials for German lessons or underwear."
The 226.06 euros will be donated to the Johanniter, a charity in Cologne Chorweiler, on Thursday.
Germany is currently facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, with 800,000 asylum seekers expected to arrive by the end of the year.
Ballots disadvantaged independent candidates
The decision to postpone the mayoral vote, announced nearly two weeks ago, came after state authorities complained to the city that political party names printed on the ballots were in a much larger font than the names of the candidates.
They argued that the discrepancy was a disadvantage for independent candidates who weren't affiliated to a specific party. Among the independent candidates is Henriette Reker, who - backed by a coalition of Christian Democrats (CDU), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) - is incidentally a top contender for the seat in the mayor's office.