Preliminary government estimates are that buying voting machines will cost about 30 million leva (about 15.3 million euro), Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev told reporters on February 14.
Donchev was speaking two days after Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that the government would buy voting machines for all polling stations. Bulgaria is due to go the polls twice in 2021, in parliamentary elections in the spring and presidential elections in the autumn.
A voting machine cost about the same as a mid-range laptop, less than 2000 leva, and 15 000 to 20 000 machines would have to be ordered, Donchev said.
There were a few details that could change the price, he said.
“Since autumn last year we have been looking into the market, which is not very easy. Because there is no European experience that we can take into account. Further the situation is complicated by the situation in China,” Donchev said, saying that whatever the components, some were made in China.
“On the one hand, we can push for a lower price given the large number of machines that will be ordered,” said Donchev, who reiterated that there would have to be more machines than there were polling stations.
This was so as to be able to replace a defective machine, and also because there were polling stations with large numbers of voters, where if there was only one machine, it would delay the voting process.
As he had said at the February 12 Cabinet meeting, Donchev said that if there were to be voting machines, voting on paper ballots should be dropped, although he now admitted that completely doing so would not be possible.
This was because it would be necessary to allow voting abroad on paper ballots. “Analysis shows that transporting machines is difficult, if not impossible.”
Further, there were polling stations with small numbers of voters, fewer than 300 said.
“In any case, whatever is written in the (Electoral) Code, we will do,” Donchev said.