Bulgaria’s election body opens talks to buy 1600 voting machines

Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission (CEC) said late on October 6 that it opened direct negotiations to purchase 1600 Smartmatic voting machines ahead of the November 14 presidential and early parliamentary elections.

The CEC said it set a maximum value of 8.68 million leva (about 4.44 million euro) for the contract. Each machine should come with five cards used in the voting process and two flash storage devices, as well as a full election software suite. The contract also includes 2000 additional flash storage devices.

In its decision, CEC said that it was holding direct talks with manufacturer Smartmatic, state-owned IT firm Informatsionno Obsluzhvane and privately-held Ciela Norma, rather than a public tender due to the short amount of time left before election day.

Bulgaria previously acquired 9600 voting machines for the April 4 parliamentary elections and an additional 1637 ahead of the July 11 parliamentary election, after election legislation was amended to make machine voting mandatory in precincts with more than 300 voters.

The decision to buy yet more voting machines was due to the fact that voters will be asked to elect both the president and a new National Assembly on November 14.

This would require using two separate ballots, which will increase the voting time and, as a result, necessitate the deployment of a second voting machine in more precincts than in the previous two elections held earlier this year, CEC said.

(Smartmatic voting machine used in Bulgarian elections. Photo: Interior Ministry)

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