Bulgaria’s 2023 mayoral elections run-offs: Tussle over voting machines

With 30 out of thousands of voting machines out of order on November 5, the day of mayoral elections run-offs in Bulgaria, there was a tussle over the cause of the problem.

The Ciela Norma company, which maintains the machines, had warned ahead of the vote that the Central Election Commission (CEC) had ordered the wrong size of paper for the machines – as it had in Bulgaria’s April 2023 early parliamentary elections, the company said.

The CEC denied this, saying that the 30 voting machines were out of order for a variety of reasons, pointing to malfunctioning flash drives as among these reasons.

According to Bulgarian National Radio, about a third of the malfunctioning machines were in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia.

The second round of voting in mayoral elections in various places in Bulgaria was taking place against the background of the CEC’s controversial decision to bar the machines from use in the first-round vote on October 29.

A ruling on October 30 by the Supreme Administrative Court opened the way for the use of voting machines. Bulgarian election law says that voters should have a choice between voting machines and ballot papers.

By the second half of the afternoon of November 5, there were reports that voter turnout was low.

By 4.30pm on Sunday, the CEC website continued to show voter turnout only as of 11pm: 9.19 per cent nationally, and 6.52 per cent in Sofia. Media reports of low turnout were based largely on statements by polling agencies. At the same time on October 29, voter turnout nationally was 13.88 per cent and in Sofia, 8.61 per cent.

Bulgarian National Television said that two people had been arrested in Sofia in connection with alleged vote-buying.

Nessebur police took two people into custody in connection with alleged vote-buying in the village of Orizare. The men were said to be involved in offering voters 150 leva (about 75 euro) each to back a certain candidate.

The CEC said on November 5 that it had dismissed the head of a sectional election commission in Petrich after it established that she was the wife of one of the candidates in the mayoral election second round.


Bulgaria’s mayoral elections run-offs: Problems with voting machines in a few places

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