Against a background of the Central Election Commission (CEC) saying that the ban on making public exit polls while voting is proceeding applies to the media but not to social networks, a number of Bulgarian-language media used Facebook pages to show provisional results during election day.
Ahead of the country’s early parliamentary elections on October 5, several Bulgarian-language media approached the CEC for clarity on election law on releasing exit polls.
The joint letter was sent not only because the law appeared not cover social media, but also because of the long-standing practice among some media of posting provisional results thinly-disguised as, for example, record and book sales.
The CEC responded that the rule applied to online, print, television and radio media but not to social networks.
On October 5, a number of media not only put exit polls on Facebook pages, but put links on their homepages – where exit polls cannot be posted until voting officially ends – directing readers to the Facebook pages.
However, the picture on these Facebook pages was incomplete because, hardly surprisingly, there was no indication of which polling agency was the source for each provisional result. This is significant because the reliability of polling agencies in Bulgaria is somewhat variable.
In the early afternoon of October 5, the CEC said that it had issued a written penalty against a media outlet for posting exit polls as a fake popularity chart.
Meanwhile, the CEC released voter turnout figures showing that 23.24 per cent of Bulgaria’s electorate had voted by 1pm. In the May 12 2013 parliamentary elections, the figure at the same time of day was 27.47 per cent.
Turnout was highest in Turgovishte (27.78 per cent) and lowest in Kurdjali (17.3 per cent) by 1pm on October 5.