Bulgaria: Supreme court annuls election commission’s ban on voting machines in municipal elections

In a ruling on the night of October 30, the day after the first round of Bulgaria’s 2023 municipal elections, the Supreme Administrative Court annulled the Central Election Commission (CEC) decision to forbid the use of voting machines in this year’s local elections.

The court’s decision is not subject to appeal.

There were a total of 12 applications to the Supreme Administrative Court against the CEC decision, taken on October 27, that in the municipal elections, voters would use only paper ballots.

The CEC decision was purportedly taken on the basis of allegations by the State Agency for National Security (SANS) that the integrity of the machine voting process had been compromised, and a claim that legal requirements for the certification of the machine voting process had not been met.

On October 30, deputy minister of e-government Mihail Stoynov, at the centre of the allegations of impropriety, issued a media statement detailing why allegations that he had violated the law in respect of machine voting were unfounded, and explaining that he had been following the law.

The CEC decision, coming the Friday before the first-round vote, led to the government demanding the resignation of the deputy head of SANS, who signed the report containing the allegations that Stoynov and others have dismissed as baseless, and also led to large-scale protests demanding the return of the option of machine voting, as is provided for in Bulgarian election law.

(Photo: Jason Morrison)

Bulgaria’s 2023 municipal elections: The Sofia Globe’s factfile

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