Machine voting has been suspended in 20 sections. This was stated at a briefing by the deputy chairman and spokesperson of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Rositsa Mateva.
She noted that for four of the devices, a decision was made to stop work yesterday. Two of the machines are in Blagoevgrad, as the transport and security rules were violated. Mateva explained that their places were exchanged – for school and kindergarten, a a technician from “Siela Norma” transported the machines with a private car. For two machines in Varna and Dobrich it was decided not to vote with them by the Municipal Election Commissions (MECs), since have not started, she added. Mateva stated that for the remaining 16 machines, various signals were received such as problem with flash drives, software not loading, problem with smart card.
Mateva called on the members of the sectional election commissions to put one stamp on the ballots from machine voting, as well as to put two on the paper ballots. She indicated that they were signals received that white ballots are being printed and shorter cut off by the machine’s printer. Mateva stated that the CEC has sent instructions to the OEC that if the voter’s vote is not established on the printed ballots, he should be given the opportunity to vote a second time in the way he chooses.
So far, they have been submitted to the CEC seven complaints and five reports, Mateva pointed out. She noted that several of the alerts are related to pre-announcement of data and results for the outcome of the vote.
In response to the Prime Minister’s comment Nikolay Denkov regarding the problems with the voting machines, Mateva stated that he did not know what the reason was to have failed to vote the first time.
“What colleagues who watched the broadcast of the voting told me, the machine was blocked by the voter before him,” Mateva pointed out. She noted that the machine ballot was most likely pulled and that is why she blocked the machine. Mateva pointed out that the problem was solved by members of the SIC and a technician of “Siela Norma” was not called, but the prime minister voted.
I do not think that on the day before the election and the day before it was proper to make comments from the contractor, who was entrusted with the machine votingbased on an offer submitted by him, with the clear awareness that such are the requirements for machine voting and he can handle it, said Mateva when asked about the position of “Siela Norma”.
The conclusions of all laboratories are that the two papers are identical and meet the manufacturer’s requirements, Mateva said. She pointed out that the CEC had done research on the paper from the BNB printing house and on the paper provided in previous elections by “Siela Norma”, and the research was sent without the laboratories knowing which sample was from which paper. The research was done at the Institute of pulp and paper and in the laboratory of the Chemical and Technological Metallurgical University, she added.
In regard to spool size, with the amendments to the Electoral Code at the end of 2022, the BNB printing house was assigned to supply the paper for machine voting, said Mateva. According to her, back in January, the CEC sent information to the BNB printing house about the requirements of “Smartmatic” for the type of paper and the size of the spool.
She noted that in response it was stated that in the printing house of the BNB, as well as in Bulgaria, there is no machine that can unroll onto a 12.75 mm spool (half an inch). That is, the printing house of the BNB, which is designated as the contractor for the delivery of the paper for machine voting in the Election Code, cannot deliver paper unrolled on a half-inch spool, and The CEC cannot appoint another contractor. Mateva stated that an unrolling machine has been ordered to be manufactured. As early as June, we received information that for the local elections, such a machine would not be able to be produced and delivered in order to make the unrolling of such a spool.
Mateva stated that the CEC and the BNB printing house had tested how the machines worked with paper wound on a one-inch spool. Such paper has been provided to all three institutions for certification of conformity – the Ministry of e-Government, the Institutes of Standardization and Metrology. The results of the tests at the printing house of the BNB, as well as the results in the reports of the three institutions, show that the paper, even with a one-inch spool, meets the requirements.