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The main challenge for voting abroad are the short deadlines

Ivan Kondov: We are grateful to our fellow citizens abroad who are the backbone for the organization of the vote abroad

Photo: Ani Petrova

A total of 751 polling stations will be organized abroad on November 14 for the 2-in-1 elections. They will be distributed in 68 countries. Machine voting will take place in 21 countries, with the largest number of machines - 96 - expected to be in Turkey.

Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Bulgarian consular missions abroad have successfully managed the organization of the elections abroad. Everything concerning the organization and logistics has been done, said the chairman of the special working group for the elections, Ivan Kondov. "Premises, technical means have been provided, the ballots have been sent, the machines are traveling, and in many places they have already arrived," he said. Regarding the difficulties in the process of the organization, Kondov pointed out:

"The deadlines set in the Electoral Code remain a big problem. When the current Electoral Code was adopted, there were probably a much smaller number of Bulgarians living abroad. We now face a huge number of polling stations, thousands of members of regional election committees, a huge number of ballots and it is already clear that the deadlines provided by law are not enough because we have doubled, if not tripled the amount of work that needs to be done for the same time. We also face difficulties with the deadlines for appointing members of sectional election commissions. The representatives of the parties in them are appointed too late", said Ivan Kondov and called on the next National Assembly to consider changes in the legislation or to resolve the issue by accepting the possibility of voting via mail.

There is a risk of the introduction of stricter travel restrictions in the time remaining until election day, and there may be obstacles to voting caused by the epidemic situation in individual countries. But at this stage there are no changes that would complicate the election process abroad, assured the Permanent Secretary of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Kondov also reported significant problems with regard to the training of the members of the section commissions abroad, as well as the very late publication of the methodological instructions needed by their members.

Regarding the availability of all necessary technical equipment for the vote in a possible second round of the presidential election, Ivan Kondov is adamant that if the Foreign Ministry does not receive the ballot papers and machines by the morning of November 16, it will be very difficult to ensure their delivery anywhere by November 21. Unofficially, the ministry has been informed that they may have to send another 416 machines in the event of a run-off next Sunday, as there is no possibility to reinstall the already sent ones. However, there is still no decision of the Central Election Commission on such a need.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed gratitude to the Bulgarian communities abroad, which are the backbone for the organization of the vote there. More than 4,000 people are members of sectional election commissions, and nearly 3,000 of them are representatives of our compatriots living abroad.

English version Rositsa Petkova

Photos: BNR, BGNES

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