Preliminary results in Bulgaria’s referendum on whether to introduce online voting showed that turnout was too low to make the result binding on Parliament, but high enough to require the National Assembly to discuss the issue on the House floor.
Exit-poll data by Alpha Research put the turnout at 35.3 per cent at 6pm, one hour before polling stations closed, above the 20 per cent threshold needed to put the question on Parliament’s agenda. Official data on turnout was not available as the Central Election Commission said it had technical difficulties throughout the election day, caused by heavy traffic.
The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of introducing online voting, with 70.6 per cent voting “yes” and 28.8 per cent against, while 2.8 per cent of ballots were invalid, Alpha Research said.
The referendum on electoral reform was first put forth by Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev in 2013, but his proposal was stymied by the ruling majority in the now-departed 42nd National Assembly. After the election of the current Parliament in October 2014, Plevneliev resumed his campaign, calling for a referendum on three questions – the introduction of a majoritarian element in the election of MPs, the introduction of compulsory voting, and electronic voting.
However, in July 2015, the National Assembly, where the largest party is Boiko Borissov’s GERB, the centre-right force that nominated Plevneliev as its presidential candidate in 2011, cut the three proposed questions down to just one, that on electronic voting. Plevneliev’s proposal to hold the referendum simultaneously with scheduled mayoral and municipal elections was accepted.