Bulgaria Must Install Voting Machines in Every Polling Station, Court Rules

Politics » DOMESTIC | February 1, 2017, Wednesday // 11:23
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Must Install Voting Machines in Every Polling Station, Court Rules A BGNES file photo showing a voting machine, at a time its use in elections was just for experimental purposes.

The Supreme Administrative Court has ruled Bulgarian authorities have to make sure electronic voting is enabled in every polling station in the country at the snap election scheduled for the end of March.

The ruling, which cannot be appealed, delivers a blow to both the interim cabinet and the Central Election Commission (CEC), which earlier this year stated only 500 polling locations would be equipped with voting machines.

Bulgaria needs 12 500 machines to carry through the vote successfully under the new legislation. How 12 000 more will be procured is not immediately clear as the government insists they cannot be secured on a short notice, less than two months before a general election.

The new Electoral Code stipulates voters should be granted the choice between paper ballots and tapping the screen of the machines.

Approved before the presidential vote in the autumn, it was to enter into force during the "next vote".

But before the government of Bulgaria stepped down, the next election was scheduled for the fall of 2018, and the need to call a snap vote caught authorities off-guard.

Last week election authorities ruled machine voting will only be in place in 500 stations in March. New Republic, a right-wing movement, appealed the decision, saying it contravened the Electoral Code.

The movement's leader Radan Kanev on Wednesday morning welcomed the court ruling on Twitter, calling it "bad news for GERB, the BSP, the DPS and the political mafia", in a reference to the three biggest parties in Parliament.

Supporters of machine voting - and of online voting that will be enabled in a few years - say the methods will put an end to voting irregularities which, they say, have been helping bring the same big parties to the legislature in every election.

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Tags: Supreme Administrative Court, machine voting, voting machines
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