Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission (CEC) said late on December 16 that it shortlisted six of the eight bidders in the tender to purchase 9600 voting machines, worth 36 million leva, or about 18.4 million euro. The other two bidders were disqualified on the grounds that they represented the same consortium, which breached the terms of the tender, CEC said. The CEC will open the bids on December 18 but gave no deadline for picking the winner of the tender. In addition to the physical delivery, the contract includes the software used by the voting machines and its source code, so that it can be “modified for all types of elections envisioned in the Electoral Code, without the supplier’s input,” the CEC said earlier, when it announced the tender. Also included in the tender is servicing the voting machines for the parliamentary elections, due in spring 2021, and training elections officials in the use of the machines. Bulgaria’s rollout of machine voting has been plagued by repeated delays – after the CEC was unable to secure 13 000 machines ahead of the 2017 parliamentary elections, the National Assembly legislated that the number of voting machines used would increase with each election. About 3000 machines were used in the 2019 European Parliament election, but an Electoral Code provision that called for 6000 machines to be deployed in the local elections later that year was scrapped, on the grounds that it would complicate the electoral process.
Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission (CEC) said on December 8 that it has received eight bids in its tender to purchase 9600 voting machines, worth 36 million leva, or about 18.4 million euro. Six companies and two individuals submitted offers before the deadline expired on December 7. The initial deadline was November 30, but it was extended by one week after CEC amended the initial terms to clarify the information security standards that the bidders must operate under. The target date for the election watchdog to announce qualifying bidders has also been moved and is now December 15. In addition to the physical delivery, the contract includes the software used by the voting machines and its source code, so that it can be “modified for all types of elections envisioned in the Electoral Code, without the supplier’s input,” the CEC said earlier, when it announced the tender. Also included in the tender is servicing the voting machines for the parliamentary elections, due in spring 2021, and training elections officials in the use of the machines. Bulgaria’s rollout of machine voting has been plagued by repeated delays – after the CEC was unable to secure 13 000 machines ahead of the 2017 parliamentary elections, the National Assembly legislated that the number of voting machines used would increase with each election.
Preliminary government estimates are that buying voting machines will cost about 30 million leva (about 15.3 million euro), Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev told reporters on February 14. Donchev was speaking two days after Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that the government would buy voting machines for all polling stations. Bulgaria is due to go the polls twice in 2021, in parliamentary elections in the spring and presidential elections in the autumn. A voting machine cost about the same as a mid-range laptop, less than 2000 leva, and 15 000 to 20 000 machines would have to be ordered, Donchev said. There were a few details that could change the price, he said. “Since autumn last year we have been looking into the market, which is not very easy. Because there is no European experience that we can take into account. Further the situation is complicated by the situation in China,” Donchev said, saying that whatever the components, some were made in China.
The Bulgarian government will provide funds to buy voting machines so that there is one at each polling station at the next elections, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov told a Cabinet meeting on February 12. He added, however, that he was not convinced that this would solve anything. In 2019, Bulgaria’s Parliament amended the Electoral Code to require the use of 3000 voting machines in last year’s presidential elections, 6000 in the municipal elections, and in National Assembly elections. Ahead of the autumn 2019 municipal elections, the law was amended again, to remove the requirement for the use of machines in that vote. That followed a Central Electoral Commission (CEC) analysis after the European Parliament elections that the deployment of voting machines – the first time they had been used on a large scale in Bulgaria – had created a number of difficulties.
Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) ruled on April 30 to deny the challenge lodged by one of losing bidders in the tender for the hire of 3000 voting machines for the country’s May 26 European Parliament elections. The plaintiff, which was disqualified by Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission (CEC) on the grounds that its offer did not meet the technical specifications set by the watchdog, argued that none of the three bidders could fully meet the technical requirements in the short time allocated for the tender. CEC spokesperson Alexander Andreev denied the allegations, saying that the electoral body met all the requirements set in the public procurement act and the technical requirements were met, as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio. Last week, CEC picked Ciela Norma as the winner in the tender. The company will have to deliver the voting machines by May 10, with software installation due to be completed by May 15, followed by 10 days for certification and audits. The voting machines would be then shipped to voting precincts on May 25.
Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission (CEC) has picked a winner in the tender for the hire of 3000 voting machines for the country’s May 26 European Parliament elections. Three bidders submitted offers before the deadline, but CEC said that two were disqualified – one on the grounds that its bid was higher than the 7.5 million leva (about 3.8 million euro) cost ceiling set by CEC, the other because its offer did not meet the technical specifications set by the watchdog. The winner, Ciela Norma, said that it was prepared to meet all the deadlines even though it faced a slew of issues. A company official told public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television (BNT) that some voting machines were yet to be manufactured and shipped to Bulgaria and the software was not ready, given that CEC was yet to finalise its requirements on the printouts produced by the voting machines. Under the terms of CEC’s tender, the machines have to be delivered by May 10, with software installation due to be completed by May 15, followed by 10 days for certification and audits. The voting machines would be then shipped to voting precincts on May 25.
Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission (CEC) has called a tender for the hire of 3000 voting machines for the country’s May 26 European Parliament elections. The CEC intends to rent, rather than buy, the voting machines, and plans to spend up to 7.5 million to 15 million leva (about 3.8 million euro) on the contract. The…
Bulgaria must be ready for malicious cyber attacks, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev said on February 11, warning that there was no election process exempt from attempts to “hit” it. Election processes are within Donchev’s portfolio as deputy head of government. Bulgaria is scheduled to go to the polls twice in 2019, in European Parliament elections in May and mayoral and municipal elections in the autumn. Donchev’s comment came a day after Tsvetan Tsvetanov, parliamentary leader of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party, said that he was sure that Russia would try to interfere in Bulgaria’s elections this year.
Bulgaria: Electoral authority to ask MPs to defer introduction of electronic voting | The Sofia Globe
Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission (CEC) tabled a report to the country’s National Assembly recommending that MPs postpone the introduction of electronic voting, which currently is slated to be used for the first time in the European Parliament elections in May 2019. Although CEC did not make its report public, several media reports said that CEC made its recommendation based on several simulations of electronic voting.
The first legislation that Bulgaria’s ruling centre-right GERB party has proposed within the new 44th National Assembly – the introduction of a majoritarian electoral system – is likely to face opposition from the other four parties in parliament. Following promises it made during the previous legislature and in the campaign ahead of the snap vote on March 26, GERB on Wednesday proposed changes to the electoral code that would transform the current mixed electoral system into a fully majoritarian one, in which MPs are elected in constituencies with an absolute majority in two rounds. The proposal follows a referendum on changes to the political system held on November 6, 2016, which 2.5 million citizens – 11,000 short of the number needed to make the results of the plebiscite mandatory – supported.
Bulgaria: Ruling party to table legislation to introduce majoritarian election system | The Sofia Globe
The first legislation that Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party will table in the Parliament elected in March this year will be to introduce a majoritarian system for electing MPs, parliamentary group leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov said. Tsvetanov was speaking on the weekend after Borissov returned to power as Prime Minister, at the head of a coalition government of GERB and the nationalist United Patriots. Tabling a bill on a majoritarian voting system was a fulfilment of a commitment made by GERB at the end of the previous legislature as well as its promises during the campaign ahead of the March 2017 elections, Tsvetanov said.
In an address to the nation on Tuesday, Radev called on the new parliament which will start work on April 19 to take steps to prevent the recurrence of what he called “significant problems” at snap elections last month. He said Bulgaria had witnessed “targeted attempt from abroad to influence the electoral results” – indirectly referring to Turkey’s agitation in favour of DOST, a recently-formed ethnic Turkish-dominated party, which resulted in the extradition of several Turkish officials by the Bulgarian authorities prior to the vote. “The problems remain after the election. They do not end with external interference, there are targeted attempts at deep and systematic infiltration and influence over society and political life in the country,” Radev said.
Bulgaria: Caretaker Justice Minister fires official over unconstitutional draft bill limiting voting rights abroad | The Sofia Globe
A controversial draft bill that would have curtailed the voting rights of Bulgarians abroad has been withdrawn and the official responsible for posting it online has been fired. This was announced by the Justice Ministry on April 5, a day after reports about the draft bill, which proposed allowing Bulgarians to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections only if they had been resident in the country three months prior to the vote. Critics immediately pointed out that this would hardly survive a challenge in the Constitutional Court. In its Wednesday statement, the ministry said that caretaker Justice Minister Maria Pavlova had identified “imperfections” in the text of the draft amendments to the Bulgarian Citizenship Act.
Boiko Borisov, the comeback specialist of Bulgarian politics, looked to have done it again as exit polls from a snap election put his pro-EU centre-right party in first place. Borisov’s European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party won about 32%, the exit polls on Sunday showed, ahead of the Socialist party (BSP) on about 28%. Observers had suggested victory for the BSP might see Bulgaria, a Nato member, tilt more towards Russia. Moscow, which has long had close cultural and economic ties with Bulgaria, has been accused of seeking to expand its influence in other Balkan countries in recent months. Borisov said after the exit poll that he was “obliged” by the vote to form a government but whether the burly former firefighter and mayor of Sofia, 57, can form a stable coalition remains to be seen.
The former prime minister of Bulgaria verged on retaking power Sunday as his center-right party held a narrow lead in a contested election, a sign that Bulgarians still see their future lying with the European Union. While official results were not expected until Monday, it appeared that the former leader, Boiko Borisov, would form a new government in Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest member, probably in a coalition with an alliance of smaller right-wing nationalist parties. The Socialists, who had advocated stronger ties with Russia and had vowed to block a renewal of European Union sanctions against the Kremlin, could not convince enough voters that they were the better alternative and conceded defeat.
Bulgarians vote on Sunday in a closely-fought election, with the centre-right GERB party challenged for power by Socialists who say they will improve ties with Russia even if it means upsetting the country’s European Union partners. Opinion polls put the GERB party of former prime minister Boiko Borisov, 57, only narrowly ahead of the Socialists, who have seen their popularity rise since the candidate they backed, Rumen Radev, won Bulgaria’s presidency in November. Borisov resigned in the wake of Radev’s victory, triggering Bulgaria’s third parliamentary election in just four years.
With eyes fixed on populist threats in other European Union elections, one vote has escaped the glare. And this one promises to strengthen Russia’s foothold in the region. While affirming their commitment to the EU, Bulgaria’s two biggest parties say they’ll revive economic ties with Russia to benefit voters who feel let down by the bloc a decade after membership. The Socialists, neck and neck with Gerb before Sunday’s snap parliamentary ballot, vow to go further, by sinking sanctions against President Vladimir Putin’s government. A Russian-friendly Socialist won the presidency in 2016.
Bulgaria: Expats in Germany and US take election commission to court over polling stations | The Sofia Globe
ulgarian citizens living in Germany and the United States are taking the Central Election Commission (CEC) to the Supreme Administrative Court over the commission not opening polling stations in 13 German cities and two places in the US with Bulgarian communities. This emerged from the electronic public register of complaints and communications submitted to the CEC, Bulgarian National Radio said on March 9, seventeen days ahead of Bulgaria’s early parliamentary elections.
Bulgaria: Could the lack of voting machines sink Bulgaria’s March parliamentary elections? | The Sofia Globe
The fact that there will not be voting machines at all polling stations in Bulgaria’s March 26 2017 early parliamentary elections could open the way for a challenge in the Constitutional Court challenge – but there is no certainty that such a challenge would succeed. This emerges from the view taken by some members of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and specialists in Bulgarian constitutional law. The CEC decided on February 25 not to accept the sole bid to supply the machines, saying that the bidder did not meet the technical and timeframe criteria to supply the 12 500 machines needed to comply with a Supreme Administrative Court ruling handed down on February 1. The court ruled that to comply with an amendment to electoral law approved in 2015, there should be voting machines at all polling stations, in Bulgaria and abroad, as an alternative to using a ballot paper.
The Central Election Commission (CEC) has fended off claims that the vote might be contested due to the lack of electronic voting. CEC spokesperson Aleksandar Andreev has told the Bulgarian National Radio that the development is far from being the most substantial claim one could lodge over the election. The comments follow a CEC decision to cancel a tender that would have secured voting machines less than a month ahead of the election. Electronic voting has been made mandatory as an option alongside paper ballots under the latest amendments to legislation adopted last year. In the interview, however, Andreev has enumerated other possible reasons that could turn into “more serious” occasions to dispute the election results. These include the electoral rolls which have not been cleared for 27 years, giving ground to manipulate the vote.
The Central Election Commission (CEC) amended late on Friday night its decision on electronic voting machines by writing that during the elections on March 26 there will be electronic voting in all voting sections. CEC will organise, manage and control this type of voting and the processing of data from electronic voting. There is still no announcement for a public procurement order for voting machines on CEC’s website. Electronic voting will take place via specialised machines and electronic means, while the commission will determine the requirements for these. There will be mandatory instructions for the implementation of technical and IT support.
The Public Council to Bulgaria’s electoral body, the Central Electoral Commission, or CIK, on Thursday said the future of electronic voting in Bulgaria must be determined after thorough analyses and public debate. “The drastic increase in the number of the machines [for voting] in use without enough time for preparation could become an obstacle to the organization of the electoral process”, the council, which brings together experts from the civil sector, noted. The statement comes after interim Interior Minister Stefan Yanev, whose ministry is in charge of organizing the vote on March 26 said the state will provide machines for all polling stations in Bulgaria and abroad. The minister said the CIK will be in charge of organizing a public procurement for around 13,000 voting machines, without specifying whether they will be rented or purchased or how much this would cost.
Bulgarian government officials are at pains to issue assurances that the March 2017 parliamentary elections will succeed in spite of the new and costly complication about having to supply voting machines to all polling stations. But the Central Election Commission has admitted the process could face the possibility of no one meeting the conditions to provide the machines or the procurement process facing a court challenge – though the commission is insisting that if this happened, it would not call into question the legitimacy of the elections. Months after the now-departed National Assembly voted the latest rewrite of electoral laws, and months after Boiko Borissov’s government resigned and set the country on the path to early elections, the election process faces an unforeseen complication. Or one that could have been foreseen.
Bulgaria: Government and Electoral Officials Looking at Ecuador, Philippines for Solution to Machine Voting Crisis | Novinite
Government and electoral officials will meet on Thursday to discuss ways to procure 12 000 voting machines, with options including an order to Ecuador or the Philippines. Talks have been scheduled between Stefan Yanev, the interim Defense Minister and Deputy PM on elections, and members of the Central Election Commission (CEC). These come less than two months ahead of the early election scheduled for March 26. On Wednesday, a supreme court ruled authorities should provide voting machines for all 12 500 polling stations. Currently, there are only 500 in stock. The announcement followed a move by CEC to warn machines would only be available for 500 polling stations, despite new legislation stipulating all stations should be equipped with them.
The Supreme Administrative Court has ruled Bulgarian authorities have to make sure electronic voting is enabled in every polling station in the country at the snap election scheduled for the end of March. The ruling, which cannot be appealed, delivers a blow to both the interim cabinet and the Central Election Commission (CEC), which earlier this year stated only 500 polling locations would be equipped with voting machines. Bulgaria needs 12 500 machines to carry through the vote successfully under the new legislation. How 12 000 more will be procured is not immediately clear as the government insists they cannot be secured on a short notice, less than two months before a general election.
Bulgaria’s new president yesterday called an early national election for 26 March and appointed a former parliamentary speaker as caretaker prime minister until then. Ognyan Gerdzhikov, 70, currently a professor of law and head of an arbitration court, served as speaker of parliament in a centrist government from 2001 to 2005 and is now the Eastern European country’s interim prime minister. Kiril Ananiev, 61, currently a deputy finance minister in charge of budgets, will take over as finance minister, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. Ananiev is seen as a safe pair of hands, having served as deputy finance minister in five different governments. The appointments show that President Rumen Radev, who took office this month after winning an election with the backing of the opposition Socialists, is seeking continuity and balance, analysts said.
Bulgaria: Russia-friendly Radev sworn in as Bulgaria’s president, set to dissolve parliament | Reuters
Former air force commander Rumen Radev was sworn in as Bulgaria’s new president on Thursday and said he would dissolve the parliament in a week’s time following the collapse of the centre-right government. Radev, a political newcomer who ran as an independent with the backing of the opposition Socialists, takes up his largely ceremonial post on Sunday after pledging to maintain Bulgaria’s position as a member of the European Union and NATO while also improving historically important ties with Russia. Radev’s decisive victory in November’s presidential race prompted the government of Boiko Borisov to resign, raising the prospect of prolonged political uncertainty in the Balkan nation and making an early parliamentary election virtually inevitable.
The party of outgoing Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has submitted the draft of a new Electoral Code that provides for a switch of Bulgaria’s voting system. The text has been created by GERB lawmakers Danail Kirilov and Dimitar Lazarov. It constitutes yet another attempt of the main ruling party – the senior partner in the outgoing coalition government – to pass a change of the electoral system, from one of proportional representation to majority voting. On Wednesday, lawmakers postponed the review of a bill that would have introduced first-past-the-post voting. Under the proposals, 240 single-seat constituencies will be created (Bulgaria’s legislature has 240 seats), all of them being in Bulgaria.
Forming a new Bulgarian government within the current Parliament should not be deemed impossible anymore, main ruling GERB party leader and outgoing Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has said. Speaking after a European Council session in Brussels, he has cited the results of a referendum showing Bulgarian voters’ preference for a first-past-the-post electoral system (over the currently enforced proportional representation) and the complex political situation in the region. Borisov, who by now has only shown skepticism about the Reformist Bloc’s effort to forge another cabinet after his resignation, has told reporters it is “worth scaling forward the [resignation] time just so little as to accept [a] new election law in accordance with the [results of the] referendum.”
Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court ordered on December 14 a recount of ballots cast in the nationwide referendum on November 6 in 44 electoral precincts. The recount order comes after the initiative committee that gathered the signatures necessary to call the plebiscite lodged a complaint against the Central Electoral Committee, arguing that the electoral body had breached election rules, which could have altered the outcome of the referendum.