Analysis Reveals Steep Drop in Machine Voting During Bulgarian Elections

Politics | June 14, 2024, Friday // 10:00|  views

A recent analysis by the Institute for the Development of the Public Environment (IRPS) highlights a significant decline in the use of machine voting during Bulgaria's parliamentary elections on June 9. This decline marks a stark contrast to previous elections, where voting technology was a focal point of political discourse and legislative adjustments. Originally introduced as a means to streamline and secure the electoral process, machine voting was reinstated briefly after its initial implementation faced criticism and was later modified under the pretext of enhancing voter turnout. However, despite these changes, voter participation in the recent elections reached a record low, with only 34.41% casting ballots for the National Assembly and 33.79% for the European Parliament, according to IRPS data.

During this election, voters in sections with more than 300 registered individuals were offered the choice between traditional paper ballots and machine voting. The latter method involved machines printing ballots, which were then manually counted by election committees. Issues arose during the election day, including printing discrepancies and guidelines adjustments by the Central Election Commission (CEC) to allow re-voting in cases of machine-related issues.

The IRPS analysis, based on preliminary district election commission reports, indicates that a majority, 63.98%, opted for paper ballots for the National Assembly, while 39.02% chose machine voting. This marks a notable decline compared to previous years, where machine voting was more prevalent despite initial endorsements by some political parties. For instance, supporters of "We Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria" showed a significant preference for machine voting, while other parties saw lower proportions of their supporters opting for this technology.

The regional breakdown reveals varying preferences across Bulgaria, with Sofia constituencies showing higher machine voting rates compared to regions like Kardzhali, Razgrad, and Targovishte, where paper ballots were more favored. Notably, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), once a strong advocate for machine voting to minimize errors and enhance accuracy, saw a sharp decline in its supporters opting for this method, reflecting shifting party priorities and voter sentiments.

Looking ahead, there is a call for a comprehensive analysis of the challenges faced with machine voting, potential reforms in electoral administration, and efforts to improve the reliability and accessibility of voting technology. The outcome of these deliberations could shape future electoral practices in Bulgaria, influencing decisions on the use of machine versus paper ballots in upcoming elections.

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Tags: machines, voting, Bulgaria


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