Voting underway in Bulgaria’s July early parliamentary elections

Voting is underway in Bulgaria‘s second parliamentary elections in 2021.

The July 11 early parliamentary elections are a consequence of the 45th National Assembly, elected on April 4, not having voted a government into office, and thus having been dissolved.

Twenty-three political parties and coalitions, with a total of more than 5000 candidate MPs, are competing for the 240 seats in the 46th National Assembly. To win a share of those seats, a contestant must get at least four per cent of valid votes cast.

Voting hours are from 7am to 8pm. The Electoral Code allows election officials to extend voting until 9pm at a polling station where a queue remains at 8pm.

As amended by the 45th National Assembly, the Electoral Code requires that voting must be done using a machine at a polling station where more than 300 voters are registered, in this election a total of 9401 in Bulgaria. There is machine voting at 273 polling stations abroad.

There are just more than 13,000 polling stations within Bulgaria, and more than 780 in foreign countries.

If a technical problem prevents a voting machine being used, the Central Election Commission is empowered to decide that a polling station may go over to using paper ballots.

To provide for this, about 7.4 million paper ballots have been printed.

On the morning of July 11, technical problems were reported with voting machines in some places, including, for instance, one case at a polling station in the Sofia district where a machine had an incorrect date and time setting.

There was a similar problem in Cherven Bryag, where a machine’s time was out by an hour. According to Bulgarian National Radio, if necessary, voting there could be extended by an hour.

The law forbids media reporting exit polls on their websites or radio and television stations before the official end of election day in Bulgaria.

The post-8pm exit polls may not present a fully accurate picture of the outcome of the July 11 vote, because voting in foreign countries will proceed until 8pm local times. In Bulgaria’s April regular parliamentary elections, votes cast abroad played a notable role in the outcome. Amendments to the Electoral Code approved this year have made possible a significant increase in polling stations abroad.

In some places in Bulgaria, a ban on the sale of alcohol in shops, bars, restaurants and other public places is in effect on election day. These include Plovdiv, Shoumen, Vratsa and Svishtov.

The Central Election Commission has until July 15 to announce the votes won and the share-out of seats in the next National Assembly. The following day, candidate MPs who have stood and won in more than one electoral district must declare from which one they have been deemed to be elected.

On July 18, the commission must declare the names of those who have been elected MPs.

For further details about the July 11 parliamentary elections, please visit The Sofia Globe’s Election Factfile.

(Screenshot from a video posted by the CEC about how to use a voting machine)

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