Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court ruled on February 23 to overturn a provision from the Electoral Code that stipulated the conditional loss of franchise, included in last year’s amendments to the law that also introduced compulsory voting.
The provision, in article 242a of the Electoral Code, stated that anyone who did not exercise their right to vote in “two successive elections of the same type” – whether parliamentary, presidential or local – without a valid excuse would be removed from electoral rolls.
The court decision, reached by unanimity of the 11 judges in attendance, struck down the article in question because it was in conflict with a number of constitutional provisions, the court said in a statement. The full legal reasoning would be published on February 28, the court said.
Bulgaria’s ombudsman Maya Manolova submitted the court challenge shortly after the electoral code amendments were voted by Parliament, with the Constitutional Court ruling on July 29 2016 that the challenge was admissible.
Manolova’s challenge did not question the introduction of compulsory voting, only the sanction imposed on voters that did not cast ballots. As a result, the provision in article 3 of the Electoral Code that mandates compulsory voting remains in effect, even if the court’s decision has rendered it unenforceable.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)