site.btaUPDATED Parliament Concludes Passage of Election Code Amendments
On Friday, Bulgaria's Parliament concluded the passage of the remaining amendments to the Election Code, after an 18-hour-long sitting on Thursday that went into the small hours of Friday proved too short to complete business on the bill.
Instead of voter-verified paper records, machines will print out ballots which will be counted manually after the close of the polls along with the paper ballots cast and the preferences.
After opening the ballot box and counting the votes, the number of ballots found in the ballot boxes and in the special box for machine voting ballots will be entered consecutively on the tally sheet of the section election commission, the MPs resolved.
The machine voting tally sheet will no longer be part of the section commission tally sheet, and the machine voting tally sheet data will not be added to the section commission tally sheet data when they are entered into the computing station of the constituency commission by transfer via a technical recording device.
A motion by an MP of Continue the Change, according to which a excerpt report on the machine voting would be printed out and become part of the deliverable election stationery, was defeated.
According to the amendments, section election commissions will be tasked with counting the votes cast by paper ballot and by machine and the preferences.
The adopted provisions were met with a stormy reaction in the debating chamber. Continue the Change co-chair Kiril Petkov argued that the revisions machine voting almost meaningless.
The National Assembly voted, 186-1, to approve a motion by Bozhidar Bozhanov MP of Democratic Bulgaria obliging the Central Election Commission to experiment with the use of paper with security features for printing machine-voting ballots within three weeks after the adoption of the bill. The mover explained that such paper may be unsuitable for the voting machines' printing devices.
The MPs repealed provisions on the possibility of conducting experimental remote electronic voting despite Bozhanov's insistence to follow the example of Estonia.
The legislature initially approved a motion of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms according to which legislative seats will be allocated on the basis of the National Population Register kept by the Directorate General of Civil Registration and Administrative Services, but later on resolved to base the allocation on the latest population census conducted by the National Statistical Institute.
The separate multi-member constituency for expatriate voters was not abolished but, on a motion by GERB-UDF, will apply as from January 1, 2025 so as to allow time for development of the appropriate methodology.