(DF) President Expects Central Election Commission to Say whether it is Ready for Simultaneous Presidential, Legislative Polls

September 8 (BTA) – Conferring with the leadership of the Central Election Commission (CEC) on Tuesday, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said he expects from the Commission to say whether they are ready, in organizational, technical, technological, timeframe and financial terms, for simultaneous holding of the presidential and early parliamentary elections. The National Assembly has scheduled the presidential elections for November 14. The President has yet to set a date for the snap legislative polls. “The separation of responsibilities between the presidential institution and the National Assembly presupposes separate campaigns and separate elections. So far, such elections have never taken place simultaneously in our practice, and I am not aware of this having happened in other nearby countries. On the other hand, we all know that separate elections cost far more,” Radev pointed out. He added that “this year Bulgarians have already built up a substantial electoral fatigue, and now they must go to the polls on three successive Sundays.” He was referring to the two parliamentary elections, held in April and July, and to the two rounds of the forthcoming presidential elections and the third parliamentary elections. CEC Chair Kamelia Neykova said that the Commission is always ready for the holding of elections regardless of their type and regardless of whether they are held simultaneously or separately, and she cited some examples. In her opinion, if the two types of elections take place on the same day, some costs may be optimized because they will require a single logistics. The actual costs depend on the technological and organizational solutions and on whether a second round of the presidential elections will be necessary. If the two types of elections are simultaneous, an additional number of voting machines will have to be purchased, and this number will be determined under a criterion that CEC has yet to establish about the number of voting sections that will need two machines. “Technologically, in case the elections are held on different dates, we recommend that they take place at least a fortnight apart, this is the critical minimum,” Neykova said, referring to the need to reset the machines. “The CEC does not hold elections entirely on its own. We interact with all other state bodies concerned with the elections,” Neykova said. “Whatever decision is taken, the CEC will organize the elections in a way that the balloting process will not be put at risk,” she asserted. “Same-day elections are possible provided that the Government provides you with the requisite financial and logistical support and the voters are instructed on time,” the President said, summing up the meeting. * * * At a special new briefing in connection with the Radev-CEC meeting, the GERB-UDF Parliamentary Group put questions to the President whether the voting machines and the software are owned by the State or by the private providers and whether the machine voting receipts will be counted. “Will these elections be organized by the Bulgarian State, or will they be held yet again by a private company, which is unprecedented in the EU?” asked MP Radomir Cholakov. DS/LG