Bulgaria’s election body opens talks to buy additional voting machines

Bulgaria’s Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission (CEC) said on June 21 that it opened direct talks to purchase 1637 Smartmatic voting machines ahead of the July 11 snap parliamentary elections.

The CEC said it set a maximum value of 8.92 million leva (about 4.56 million euro) for the contract. In addition to the voting machines, the contract includes 19 500 cards used in the voting process.

In its decision, CEC said that it was holding direct talks with the state-owned IT firm Informatsionno Obsluzhvane, which would acquire the voting machines directly from the manufacturer, rather than a public tender due to the short amount of time left before election day.

Initially, CEC held talks with Ciela Norma, the firm that supplied 9600 Smartmatic voting machines for the April 4 elections, but negotiations broke down because of the 14 million leva price tag quoted by the company for the delivery of new devices and technical support of the previously-delivered voting machines.

In the end, CEC opted to sign a separate maintenance contract worth 4.35 million leva with Ciela Norma and acquire the additional voting machines through Informatsionno Obsluzhvane.

Speaking to reporters on June 21, CEC spokesperson Rossitsa Mateva said that the state IT firm was chosen as an intermediary because the manufacturer, Smartmatic, does not have a representative office in Bulgaria.

She said that the manufacturer indicated it was prepared to sign the contract with any intermediary designated by CEC and had the voting machines available in storage in The Netherlands. The machines should arrive in Bulgaria by the end of the week, Mateva said, as quoted by Bulgarian National Television.

(Screengrab from Bulgarian National Television.)

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