Bulgarian MPs Adopt Set of Amendments to Electoral Code

Politics » DOMESTIC | April 20, 2016, Wednesday // 09:26
Bulgaria: Bulgarian MPs Adopt Set of Amendments to Electoral Code

After sitting for more than fourteen hours on Tuesday, members of Bulgaria's parliamentary legal affairs committee adopted at second reading a set of amendments to the Electoral Code.

The amendments, which were discussed at three extraordinary sittings of the committee that lasted for over 28 hours in total, will be subject to final vote in the plenary chamber on Thursday, daily Dnevnik informs.

Among the main amendments adopted by MPs is the classification of voting as a civil duty and the introduction of compulsory voting.

Voters might be entitled to rewards, which will be determined by the Council of Ministers, while those not casting their ballot will be subject to penalty by being deregistered from the electoral rolls for participation in the next elections.

Those deregistered will be able to be signed back on the electoral register by submitting a request to the competent authorities.

MPs approved the inclusion of “Not voting for anyone” as a valid option on the ballot paper, which provides an opportunity for those not supporting any of the parties or candidates contesting the elections to express their opinion.

Lawmakers amended the provision which stipulated that if a referendum and elections are scheduled to take place in the same year, these should be held simultaneously.

This is most likely aimed at holding the six-point referendum on the political system, initiated by Slavi's show, earlier than the presidential elections scheduled to take place in the autumn.

The amendments foresee the holding of experimental remote electronic voting at three consecutive elections, including referendums, after 1 January 2018.

Until then, the Central Election Commission (CIK) will hold three simulations of remote electronic voting, in which voters will cast their ballot for made-up parties, coalitions or candidates.

The results from the trial electronic voting will not be taken into account when counting the final results. If the voting is deemed successful, it will be introduced by parliament.

Ballot papers will continue to be counted manually. The number of members of the municipal election committees in Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna were increased.

MPs also approved the creation of constituency for voters abroad, which will elect up to four MPs. CIK will determine the exact number of mandates.

Until now, the votes cast by Bulgarians abroad were distributed in the country's constituencies. Voters abroad will also be entitled to cast a preferential vote for a particular candidate.

Lawmakers reduced the length of the election campaign from a month to 21 days. The election day will start later and end later, with polling stations opening at 7 o'clock and closing at 21 o'clock.

MPs adopted a ban on the announcement of the results from opinion polls throughout the length of the election campaign.

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Tags: Bulgaria, election, compulsory voting, electronic voting, Referendum

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