Bulgaria Looking at Ecuador, Philippines for Solution to Machine Voting Crisis

Domestic | February 2, 2017, Thursday // 09:04|  views

File photo, BGNES

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.

Veselin Torodov, CEO at the firm which delivered voting machines in the last four elections (until 2015 only used for experimental purposes and, until now, not mandatory for all polling stations), said his representatives were already "in talks" with several states.

Voting machines are often owned by governments and not companies, he said in an interview with the Bulgarian National Radio, citing the Philippines and Ecuador as a possible sources of machines at the moment.

But he added these should be procured "immediately", or in the second two or three days, it would "not be a big problems" to have machines and organize the process, including training of staff that will work with them during the election.

"I think [the election commission] will handle it and will find the number of machines required," former Justice Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, who left office last week, told the Bulgarian National Television on Thursday morning. "

"But even if it doesn't happen, there will be paper ballots," she noted.

Zaharieva suggested the election commission was ill-prepared for the task as it did not expect a new vote before the autumn of 2018. She also assumed machines would only be "rented" for now and purchased only for the next election.

The former government deposited its resignation in mid-November, but the CEC only announced its ruling at the end of January.

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Tags: voting machines, machine voting, electronic voting, early election, Central Election Commission


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