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Rooting out corruption is the principal reason why Bulgarians in America went to the polls

Kubrat Pulev cast his vote at the polling station in Las Vegas

Kubrat Pulev with the owners of the Bulgarian restaurant where the elections in Las Vegas took place

Bulgarians in USA were able to exercise their right to vote at 55 polling stations. In 8 of them there was a machine vote – Washington DC, New York, Atlanta, Seattle, in the region of Chicago and in Las Vegas.

Provisional data from the vote in America show that more Bulgarians cast their vote in yesterday’s 2-on-1 elections than in the election in July, more than in the elections in April even, when a record-high voter turnout was registered. With the enormous amount of interest in the elections in the spring, according to Central Election Commission data, more than 10,000 valid ballots were found in the ballot box, or around 3.5% of the Bulgarian community in USA, BNR’s correspondent in Washington DC Mladen Petkov says, citing official data by the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry. In the July election, a little over 8,900 people in the USA cast their vote for Bulgarian parliament. 

Voter turnout at the polling station in Las Vegas was similar to the turnout in July, Maria Samichkova told Radio Bulgaria. Around 600 Bulgarians exercised their right to vote there out of a Bulgarian community of 8,000-10,000. “Turnout was low. Many people here work to a different schedule – this is a city with a 24/7 rhythm,” adds Maria who has lived in USA for years, and who acts as PR officer for the Bulgarians in Nevada. She added that in the afternoon, boxer Kubrat Pulev cast his vote at the polling station there. The Bulgarian boxer is in the US to take part in a special gala where he will face MMA fighter and former UFC champion Vitor Belfort.

Stamping out corruption in Bulgaria – that is the principal motive that took Bulgarians living overseas to the polling stations. “People want to vote for something new and different, but I have not seen a meaningful campaign in a long time,” says Petyo Terziev, member of the election commission. “I have been taking part in the elections here for years and we have never had problems or any irregularities on election day,” he says.

“We don’t have any problems with the voting machines. This is the second time we had a machine vote and it makes things much easier – there are no mistakes, there are no invalid votes. In young people I see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I hope the country will find the right road so that more of us can return to Bulgaria. Not all Bulgarians living abroad vote but those who do want to change something in their country of birth.”

Ina Vasileva voted for President and for National Assembly because, with her vote, she says she wants to help improve things in Bulgaria. She says there were several political messages that reached her as a voter which made sense but she describes others as a “circus” based on slander.

“I do not expect a quick or an abrupt change but I do expect corruption to be restricted and halted. I also expect my parents and seniors in the country to be provided a better life, higher pensions and a decent old age. I see new faces in Bulgarian politics who could do that. That is why, once again, I went and cast my vote. I hope that these people will remain true to themselves and will fight corruption and injustices.”

Interview and photographs: Maria Samichkova, Las Vegas

Editing by Elena Karkalanova

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