Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission (CEC) tabled a report to the country’s National Assembly recommending that MPs postpone the introduction of electronic voting, which currently is slated to be used for the first time in the European Parliament elections in May 2019.
Although CEC did not make its report public, several media reports said that CEC made its recommendation based on several simulations of electronic voting.
Public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio said that CEC concluded that even though electronic voting was more convenient to voters, it also held heightened risks – that the voter was not alone when exercising the franchise, that someone else was voting instead of them, or that the electoral databases could become the target of hacking attempts.
Furthermore, the lack of an electronic identification system created an additional obstacle in the way of introducing electronic voting. Bulgaria plans to introduce such a system, which would be incorporated in national ID cards, but a tender to pick a contractor was later cancelled and a new tender is yet to be called, news site Mediapool reported.
Bulgaria held a referendum on the introduction of electronic voting – which would allow Bulgarian nationals, especially the estimated hundreds of thousands living abroad, to cast their votes – in 2015, which showed 69.5 per cent of respondents were in favour, but turnout fell just short of making the outcome mandatory.
Parliament passed a resolution in support of the introduction of electronic voting in 2016, but is yet to amend the Electoral Code, opting instead to mandate CEC to investigate the costs and benefits of using electronic voting.
Separately, Bulgaria also plans to introduce machine voting, where citizens can use special machines in the voting precincts (as opposed to any online device in electronic voting), but was unable to implement the measure in time for last year’s snap parliamentary elections.
(Bulgarian Parliament photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)