Bulgaria’s April elections: Hiccoughs with voting machines in some places

Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission ordered the suspension of the use of voting machines in an electoral district in Veliko Turnovo on April 4 because of technical problems, the CEC said.

Voting using only paper ballots was proceeding, while votes cast using machines would be counted in, the commission said.

Problems with voting machines were reported from various other parts of Bulgaria as the country went to the polls in regular parliamentary elections.

Current electoral law requires voting machines to be available at a polling stations where more than 300 voters are registered. A total of 9389 polling stations were supplied with voting machines.

Among political leaders, President Roumen Radev, Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova and former ombudsman Maya Manolova voted using a machine.

President Roumen Radev uses a machine to vote in Bulgaria’s April 4 parliamentary elections.

Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, Movement for Rights and Freedoms leader Mustafa Karadayi, Democratic Bulgaria coalition co-leader Hristo Ivanov, VMRO leader Krassimir Karakachanov, NFSB leader Valeri Simeonov and Volya leader Vesselin Mareshki voted using paper ballots.

Prime Minister Boiko Borissov opted to vote using a paper ballot.

Software problems also were reported with voting machines in Dobrich. The Central Election Commission was investigating the situation, but commission spokesperson Dimitar Dimitrov indicated that they were not as serious as the problems in Veliko Turnovo and machine voting in Dobrich probably would not be suspended.

The problems in Dobrich involved a discrepancy in the option for preferential voting for one candidate, while the “I do not support anyone” option did not appear on the machines.

Dimitrov discounted the latter as a problem, saying that the “I do not support anyone” option did not affect an election result.

Bulgarian National Radio reported that at two sections in the Smolyan district, machine voting was suspended because of problems with the machines, according to the regional election commission in the district.

At a section in Chepelare, machine voting had not started at all and voting was proceeding only with paper ballots.

In the Pazardzhik district, there were four reports of technical problems with the voting machines, but these were resolved, BNR said.

A technical problem with a voting machine at a school in the Fakulteta area in Sofia stopped voting using the machine for 30 minutes. The machine broke down after three people had used it.

Voting at a hospital in Plovdiv. Photo: podtepeto.com

Also on April 4, while Bulgarian law forbids posting exit polls before the end of voting – today scheduled for 8pm – at least one Bulgarian-language media website posted thinly-disguised exit polls, while others skirted the law by posting exit polls on social networks including Facebook and Instagram.

A number of political forces also posted campaign adverts on Facebook as election day was proceeding.

At an afternoon briefing, the CEC said that most of the complaints it had received in the course of the day so far involved political campaigning on election day. It said that the law did not give it jurisdiction over material posted on social networks.

The Sofia’s Globe factfile about Bulgaria’s April 2021 National Assembly elections may be found at this link.

(Main photo: Screenshot from Bulgarian National Television)

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