Bulgarian Ombudsman Maya Manolova asked the Constitutional Court on July 26 to scrap provisions in the Electoral Code that envisioned penalties on voters that did not exercise their right to vote, opening a new chapter in the long-running controversy over electoral law changes.
In April, the National Assembly passed amendments that introduced mandatory voting. The new article 242a of the Electoral Code stipulates that Bulgarian nationals that failed to exercise their right to vote in two consecutive elections would be struck off the voters’ roll.
Although the amended law also envisions the conditions under which voters can be re-instated – after providing proof that they were physically unable to cast their vote – Manolova’s challenge argued that any provision to strike off a person from the voters’ roll was “an intentional action to limit the right to vote”.
The Constitutional Court said later in the day that it formally constituted a new court case and would hold the first hearing, at which it would decide whether Manolova’s complaint was admissible, on July 29.
In a statement, Manolova said that she was considering a second complaint to the Constitutional Court, regarding the provisions limiting the number of polling stations in a country outside Bulgaria. Manolova said that a complaint would be filed after she met with Bulgarian nationals living abroad.
That provision has proved the most contentious, drawing criticism from Bulgarians living abroad. It prompted a veto from President Rossen Plevneliev, which the National Assembly overrode, and a re-write of the law, with the House passing the amendments earlier in July.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)