Bulgaria’s 2021 elections: 4.35M leva contract with voting machine firm signed

Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission has signed a contract worth 4.35 million leva (about 2.22 million euro) with the Ciela Norma company for technical and logistical support in connection with voting machines for the July 11 and other elections in 2021, according to a report by Bulgarian National Radio.

The contract covers various activities, including modification of software for parliamentary, local and presidential elections, training sessions for each election for national, regional and district election staff, and a 36-month guarantee of technical support, the report said.

BNR quoted Central Election Commission deputy head Rositsa Mateva as saying that in the July 11 early parliamentary elections, 9401 polling stations in Bulgaria will have voting machines.

As amended by the short-lived 45th National Assembly earlier in 2021, voting must be by machine in a polling station where more than 300 voters are registered.

The contract includes the technical and logistical provision of up to 11 100 voting machines.

Bulgaria acquired 9600 voting machines from Ciela Norma for the April 4 regular parliamentary elections. That acquisition was announced by the Central Election Commission on December 30, with the company’s offer having been for just less than 36 million leva.

According to BNR, a further 1500 are expected to be provided after negotiations with manufacturer Smartmatic and a further public tender for the supply of additional devices.

Protracted negotiations between the Central Election Commission and Ciela Norma have been the subject of critical public comments by the two sides for several weeks. The provisions of the contract reportedly have been amended several times.

On June 18, Ciela Norma executive director Vesselin Todorov told BNR that the contract, like the previous one, contained a clause forbidding public statements about it by the two sides.

(Ciela Norma’s sample voting machine used in the 2019 European Parliament election. Screengrab from Bulgarian National Television.)

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