Bulgaria’s President Vetoes Changed Rules for Voting Abroad
Bulgaria’s President Rosen Plevneliev will send back to Parliament for further consideration disputed changes to the Electoral Code that he sees as infringement of the voting rights of Bulgarian nationals residing abroad.
“The President believes that the Electoral Code should ensure the fairness of elections both at home and abroad and supports any democratic change in that direction. However, this should not come at the expense of unequal treatment of Bulgarian citizens abroad,” according to a statement posted on the President’s Office website.
The veto concerns particularly controversial changes to Article 14 which the President believes put at disadvantage Bulgarian expats on account of their place of residence.
While welcoming the proposed introduction of remote electronic voting through changes to the Electoral Code, the President can not accept that the voting rights of Bulgarian nationals abroad will be restricted during the period to the actual introduction of the opportunity for electronic voting, according to the statement.
Lawmakers’ failure to say explicitly what number of polling stations can be set up in Bulgarian embassies and consulates (the only places in which polling stations can open) will inevitably restrict the voting rights of some Bulgarian expats because of the fixed number of those buildings, the President says.
Another change to the Electoral Code that caps the number of polling stations in non-EU countries such as the United States, Canada, Russia, and Turkey will also be returned for consideration. The paragraph reads that only one polling station can be opened in cities in non-EU states with population of over one million if Bulgaria has no embassy of consulate in the respective city.
According to the President, the rule doesn’t take into account the specifics of Bulgarian communities living abroad and doesn’t guarantee equal opportunity for Bulgarian citizens living in non-EU countries to exercise their voting rights.
A presidential decree seeking further debate on the changes to the Electoral Code related to voting abroad will be submitted to parliament, according to the statement.
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