The start of the presidential elections and referendum campaign in Bulgaria has brought new accusations that personal identification numbers being used without the individual’s knowledge in the candidate registration lists.
At least 64 complaints have been filed with the Commission for Protection of Personal Data, as of October 8, by people who found their names and personal identification numbers used by candidates without their knowledge, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported. Small parties appeared to be most often the target of such complaints, the report said.
Under Bulgarian law, prospective candidates need to collect at least 2500 signatures – alongside names and personal identification numbers, known by their Bulgarian acronym EGN – in order to register for presidential elections. Although the Central Electoral Commission does not make the full lists public, anyone can check whether their EGN appears in any of the lists by filling it a form on the commission’s website.
As in previous elections, as soon as the database went live following the end of the registration period earlier this week, reports surfaced about people checking their personal data and finding their names in the database, despite having no recollection of signing a candidate’s list. This time, the scale appears to be smaller, though that could be due to the low number of signatures that a candidate must collect in order to stand in presidential elections, compared to the higher overall numbers in parliamentary and local elections.
Daily Sega quoted Central Electoral Commission spokesperson Kamelia Neikova saying that the electoral body did not have a legal mechanism to verify whether the signatures collected by the presidential candidates were legitimate, although the electoral law requires the commission to do so.
According to BNT, those found guilty of this type of electoral fraud can be fined between 500 leva (about 128 euro) and 100 000 leva.