Thursday, August 9, 2012

Once Again, Bulgaria Studies the Possibility of Adopting E-voting

Sofia. Image by Podoboq.

Bulgaria has been trying to implement e-voting in its electoral system for a long time. Trials were first announced in 2009, when e-voting was tested in nine polling stations in Sofia during the Parliamentary elections. However, it wasn’t introduced to the electoral system due to the ruling party’s shortsightedness, as they deemed the initial costs of its implementation too expensive. And even though the costs are indeed high, they should have kept in mind that in the long run the investment proves to be more beneficial and cheaper than the traditional manual systems due to elimination of paper ballot costs, transportation expenses and other services that are automated and don’t require hiring people to execute them.

Still, the National Assembly reconsidered e-voting and introduced an ad hoc interparliamentary group in order to draft a new Electoral Code that would be discussed in the Parliament. In 2010, the Parliament rejected the introduction of electoral technology again, but once more, it was a matter of wrong perspectives. The organization Voting Without Borders proposed an e-voting model to the Parliament that was met with snide comments. "I can predict, having in mind the problems in the current electoral process in Bulgaria that some municipalities will have a mayor elected a few days before the Election Day," said legislator Maya Manolova. Irregularities like this would not be a problem rooted in technology itself but in corrupt officers who are already mishandling political processes. What a fully auditable electronic voting system does is actually eliminate the risk of such mishaps.

Now, in 2012, the discussion has been brought up again. Bulgaria’s Blue Coalition is planning to back the petition for a referendum seeking e-voting since appeals to the Parliament have fallen into deaf ears. "The Blue Coalition has been demanding the introduction of electronic voting for years, but it has never happened. The main argument against it is that anonymity cannot be guaranteed, as well as whether one person will account for one vote," explains Asen Agov, once again showing how the lack of information has worked for the worst in Bulgaria.

Those in favor of e-voting for Bulgaria have sustained that it will make the country more democratic. Bulgaria is seeking desperately an end to its electoral corruption problems, and automating their voting system may be part of the solution to this burden. Many countries have already taken the big step toward safe and fair elections, it is about time Bulgaria loses its fear of change and does so as well.