site.btaSome Election Code Provisions on Machine Voting Ruled Unconstitutional, Others Left Standing
By a decision rendered unanimously by all its 10 sitting members on Thursday, Bulgaria's Constitutional Court pronounced unconstitutional an Election Code provision ruling out machine voting abroad in the absence of certain conditions, it transpires from a press release on the Court's website.
According to the provision concerned, which is contained in Article 212 (6) of the Code, machine voting shall not be conducted abroad "in the cases where there is no person who has been assigned by the Central Election Commission to perform logistical-support and maintenance work for the voting technical device, who has a command of the Bulgarian language, and who installs and maintains the machine-voting technical devices."
Another provision that was found inconsistent with the Constitution is a condition in Article 213b (1) of the Election Code limiting access to the source code and the documentation of the machine-voting electronic system, as well as all other software tools applicable in the election process, to persons designated by the parties and coalitions "which gained more than 4% of the valid votes at the last parliamentary elections held".
The Constitutional Court dismissed a plea to declare unconstitutional the denial to citizens in sections with fewer than 300 voters of the option to vote either by paper ballot or by machine-voting ballot and the provision obliging section election commissions to tally the machine voting results by counting the machine-voting ballots.
The constitutional case that was decided on Thursday was instituted on a petition filed by MPs of the 48th National Assembly on January 27, 2023. One of the petitioners, Nikola Minchev MP of Continue the Change, explained that they challenged the "discriminatory treatment of Bulgarian citizens" who are assigned to sections with fewer than 300 voters where they have no choice between voting by paper or by machine. The other provision attacked "turned machine voting into ballot printing," Minchev said, arguing that this made machine voting pointless and non-conforming to the applicable ordinary standards.