Bulgaria: 3 Parties rejected the President's Veto and Kept the Paper Ballot

Politics | December 23, 2022, Friday // 15:40
Bulgaria: Bulgaria: 3 Parties rejected the President's Veto and Kept the Paper Ballot @BNT

Parliament rejected the president's veto of changes to the Electoral Code that would bring back the paper ballot and effectively eliminate machine voting.

125 again supported the adopted changes, 101 were against, there were no abstentions. So the veto was overridden.

The paper ballot is the Parliament's top priority and is more important than both the budget and the increase in the minimum wage. This became clear today during successive disputes in the plenary hall related to the agenda.

Deputies agreed to start their last plenary day of the year with the president's veto of changes to the Electoral Code, with which parliament brought back the paper ballot and effectively destroyed machine voting, turning the machines into simply printers, whose receipts will be counted again by the sectional committee .

The parties that support the return of the paper ballot are GERB, BSP and DPS. They have a total of 127 votes. 121 are needed to override a presidential veto.

The probable reason for the veto being the first point is that in order to overcome it, more than half of all deputies are needed, and for the adoption of the budget - more than half of those present. This will allow a large part of the deputies to leave for their regions after the veto is overcome.

The second point is the extension of the budget.

And the item on raising the minimum wage - changes in the Labor Code - did not enter the agenda at all. However, even BSP, which proposed this point, insisted that it should be second, after the veto of the code.

"Cold-blooded dictate of the majority".

This is what Milen Mateev said ("We Continue the Change")

The chairperson of the meeting, Yordan Tsonev, repeated it from the rostrum, on the edge of the rules, that decisions that are taken according to procedure cannot be called dictation.

"This is not a dictate, but a constitutional procedure," Tsonev said.

Kalina Konstantinova ("We Continue the Change") called on Tsonev to take a cue like every representative.

"The rules oblige me to make remarks when I have grounds for it," Tsonev answered her.

Yavor Bozhankov, who was recently expelled from BSP and one of the reasons for this was that he did not support the return of the paper ballot, called for a live broadcast on BNT. And it is motivated by the fact that the deputies from BSP, who are the initiators of the changes in the code, and for whom it is more important than raising the minimum wage, are not in the hall, and it is good for the Bulgarian citizens to see this. The proposal was not accepted.

"The will of the legislator is that citizens have the right to choose. The legislator allows that the machine can be damaged, but the paper ballot cannot. Mixed voting cannot be unconstitutional.

It is the will of the legislator that the census be carried out by the people. Human error is verifiable and fixable. Software error – is not".

This was stated by Radomir Cholakov (GERB).

Petar Petrov ("Vazrazhdane") recalled that there are hundreds of thousands of invalid ballots when voting by paper, and these human errors cannot be corrected.

"When you calculate complex equations, do you calculate in your head or do you use a calculator?"

This was said by Milen Mateev ("Vazrazhdane"). And he refused to be counted among the "legislators" because he does not want to be responsible for the problems of the next elections, and for GERB, BSP and DPS to hide behind him.

"Is it the will of the legislator not to have machine voting," asked Bozhidar Bojanov from "Democratic Bulgaria".

Cholakov answered:

"GERB will raise the bar much higher for members of sectional commissions. The president's motives are weak".

Bojanov recalled that "Democratic Bulgaria" proposed to have counting centers as a measure against the many errors in counting. But this topic was not even discussed.

"The question is raised about the use of technology in state administration. If we are guided by the fact that someone, somewhere touches something, our country will fall far behind in other areas as well. There is a distrust of technology, this is a big systemic problem," said Bojanov.

Nadezhda Yordanova ("Democratic Bulgaria") said that the conversation was about trust, the Constitution and political hypocrisy.

"You blew up confidence in the electoral process. You passed amendments that made conditions worse. You did it with arguments that were factually incorrect. There are no machine errors, there are human errors.

GERB, BSP and DPS deleted the machine voting and removed the experimental electronic remote voting.

We proposed counting centers because we respect the right of some people to vote by paper. They all agreed to it, but then you dismissed them lightly.

Your modifications turn machines into printers. Voting will be done with two types of papers. If your real goal is to strike out the machine vote - say so. The opposite is hypocrisy."

Yordanova also said.

Kristian Vigenin (BSP) commented that the electoral legislation should ensure that every single citizen should have access to vote without additional barriers. And citizens must be sure of the result announced by the election administration. Vigenin also said that there should be equality of participants.

Vigenin mentioned the introduction of screens instead of a dark room, video surveillance during counting, etc. According to him, this makes the Electoral Code better.

Yavor Bozhankov recalled that BSP was a defender of the machine vote.

"For 6 years we made efforts to detach ourselves from the label of the party of the status quo. I did not believe that it was the BSP that would revive GERB with changes in the electoral legislation. This is everything we fought against for 6 years," said Bozhankov, addressing his former BSP colleagues.

None of the socialists answered Bozhankov.

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