Machines remain the preferred means of voting in the country’s largest cities, but smaller towns rely on paper. This is how things look at a first look at the voting in the local elections runoff held yesterday.
The question of which way to vote has become a difficult political problem. This happened because of the scandal caused by the accusation of DANS against the Deputy Minister of Electronic Management, Mihail Stoinov, that he had put the machine vote at risk. Except that provoked a political stormthis led to the CEC’s decision to cancel the use of the devices on the first round. However, the court subsequently allow machine voting to take place in the runoff.
On election day itself, there were mishaps with the machines – apart from the usual technical glitches, there were also odd cases where a voter received only one ballot despite having voted in two different elections, or the machine printed a blank ballot. Although they were extremely few (a few dozen out of nearly 6,000 machines), such cases were widely covered in the media and may have startled some voters.
Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna vote by machine
A total of 364,732 people participated in the vote for Mayor of the Capital Municipality, which was won by PP-DB. Machines were used by 218,765, which is 60% of those who voted. Paper was preferred by 145,947. There are no surprises here, as the majority of residents of Sofia traditionally prefer to vote by machine. This ratio is repeated in the regions of Sofia. In Mladost, for example, out of 28,816 voters, the machines preferred 17,816.
Most voters preferred machine voting in the other two big cities of the country – Plovdiv and Varna. In the city under the hills, where GERB won, 68,965 people voted for mayor of the municipality. 37,336 voters, or 54.1 percent, used the devices to cast their vote. In Varna, where the electoral success was for PP-DB, 45,858 people (53.1 percent) voted by machine out of a total of 86,320 who participated in the vote.
In the country – not so much
It is different in other regional cities. In the contested battle in Blagoevgrad, ultimately won by the PP-DB, 27,261 voters participated, of which the machines preferred 13,005 (47.7 percent). In Pazardzhik, where the victory was also for the right, 13,898 voters (41.8 percent) out of a total of 33,287 voters did so with the devices. In Shumen, won by a huge margin by the BSP, 42.6% of the citizens who participated in the vote used the machines (that’s 9,403 people out of a total of 22,096). Less than half of the voters preferred the machine vote in Veliko Tarnovo – 46.3 percent (9,706 people out of 20,958 who voted). In Kyustendil, where the “Green Party” achieved a crushing victory, they are 35.4 percent (7,985 people out of 22,541 voters).
In town halls, distrust of machines is more pronounced. In Popovtsi, Gabrovo, where a local coalition around the BSP prevailed, 235 people voted, of which only 58 (24.7 percent) chose to do so with the devices. In Mokrishte, Pazardzhik, where the victory went to the local coalition “Novo vreme”, 820 people voted, and 187 did so by machine (22.8 percent). In Podvis, Smolyansko, only 76 people took part in the vote won by DPS, all of whom preferred paper.
Already in the first round, the politicians talked about the fact that the electoral legislation should be redrafted. Surely this will directly affect the machine vote. It remains to be seen whether the politicians who took advantage of the pre-election scandal – GERB, DPS, ITN, “Vazrazhdane” and BSP – will try to finally remove the machines from use.