Voting machines: Bulgaria’s caretaker PM admits elections could face Constitutional Court challenge

By the time of the February 22 deadline for applications, there had been only one bid to rent voting machines to the Central Election Commission for Bulgaria’s March 26 2017 elections, and the CEC has yet to decide whether to accept it.

Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court ruled on February 1 that there should be voting machines at all 12 000 polling stations in Bulgaria and abroad, to offer voters an alternative to casting a paper ballot.

With the backing of the caretaker government, the CEC announced a tender for renting the machines, setting technical parameters and saying that it was prepared to spend no more than 15 million leva, VAT included (about 7.6 million euro), on the rental.

The CEC, which initially had made provision for only 500 voting machines, said that it needed 13 000, to allow for spares.

Close to deadline, it emerged that only one company had put in a bid, Lirex BG, a company that had supplied machines for an experiment in the use of voting machines in Bulgaria’s 2009 elections.

Bulgarian National Radio quoted the firm’s manager, Manol Iliev, as saying that for such an order, of about 13 000 voting machines, it was possible to supply them within a week.

But getting the essential components delivered could take up to a month, he added, saying that this could represent a risk.

CEC spokesperson Tsvetozar Tomov said that it was most likely that the commission would make a decision on the bid on February 24.

The initial deadline for bids had been February 28, but the CEC had decided to bring this forward by four days. If there were points of dispute, the commission could extend the deadline again, Tomov said.

On February 22, Bulgaria’s caretaker Prime Minister Ognyan Gerdzhikov was “cautiously optimistic” about the issue of the supply of voting machines.

Gerdzhikov said that it was nice that there was a candidate but said that he could not speculate about whether the bid would succeed.

“I really want this to be successful because it’s one of the things that really bother me, and not only me. It still cannot be excluded that the elections would be taken to the Constitutional Court,” Gerdzhikov said.




The Sofia Globe staff

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