Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) ruled on April 30 to deny the challenge lodged by one of losing bidders in the tender for the hire of 3000 voting machines for the country’s May 26 European Parliament elections.
The plaintiff, which was disqualified by Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission (CEC) on the grounds that its offer did not meet the technical specifications set by the watchdog, argued that none of the three bidders could fully meet the technical requirements in the short time allocated for the tender.
CEC spokesperson Alexander Andreev denied the allegations, saying that the electoral body met all the requirements set in the public procurement act and the technical requirements were met, as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio.
Last week, CEC picked Ciela Norma as the winner in the tender. The company will have to deliver the voting machines by May 10, with software installation due to be completed by May 15, followed by 10 days for certification and audits. The voting machines would be then shipped to voting precincts on May 25.
Bulgaria has attempted to introduce machine voting before, but a tender to rent 12 500 machines before the March 2017 snap parliamentary elections failed because the sole bidder could not meet the technical requirements.
CEC has also carried out tests using a smaller number of voting machines in previous elections, with Ciela Norma providing the equipment on those occasions as well, according to media reports.
Under the most recent amendments to the country’s Electoral Code, voting machines are to be used in 3000 precincts for the European Parliament elections and 6000 precincts in the local elections in autumn, with the next election after that point to employ only voting machines.
(Screengrab from Bulgarian National Television.)