Bulgarian Presidential Election: What You Need to Know
On Nov. 6 the Bulgarian citizens are going to vote for the new president and vice president of the country and will vote in a referendum. These are the first elections in Bulgaria in which voting is mandatory since the Bulgarian parliament made a change in the Election Code in April this year.
As the law now requires Bulgarian citizens to vote, if they fail to exercise their right on this presidential election and on the next one, they will lose their voting power and will be removed from the voting lists for the presidential elections. The only exception will be made for citizens who submitted a document providing “good reason” for their inability to come to the polls.
AUBG students who were not born in Blagoevgrad can check the polling stations in Blagoevgrad on the regional election commission’s website https://rik01.cik.bg/pvrnr2016 and vote in any one of them. They need to bring their Bulgarian ID card with them together with a certified student book for Fall 2016. In the polling station students will be required to fill out a declaration form stating that they did not vote anywhere else and they will not do so later.
Students who can go to their place of residence on the election date can check the section in which they are voting on the following website https://www.grao.bg/elections/Secure/Public/EgnSearch.cshtml using their identification number (Bulgarian: ЕГН) and their first name. If a student votes in his or her place of residence he or she should only bring their Bulgarian ID card.
Voting will begin at 7:00 a.m. and end at 8.00 p.m. on Nov. 6. Election day may be extended with an hour (until 9:00 p.m.) at the discretion of the Central Election Commission, if at 8.00 p.m. outside the polling stations there are still people willing to vote.
Bulgarian voters can express their vote choos
e from 21 candidates and the option – “I do not support anyone”. The names of the candidates are available on the Central Election Commission’s website https://www.cik.bg/bg/decisions/3731/2016-10-05 as well as on the image of the ballot sample. On the ballot, the numbers one and eight are missing since the candidates representing those numbers are dropped from the elections.
The voting for president and vice president can be marked with either “X” or “V” sign in the box with the number of the candidate. The vote counts only if the pen writing is in blue. The voter must fold the ballot in such a way that his or her indications are not visible.
Voters must request a list for voting on the referendum from a member of the sectional electoral commission. The voting can be marked with “X” or “V” in the box selecting “YES” or “NO” only with pen writing in blue. The voter has to put the referendum ballot in an envelope. The ballot of the president and vice president must not be put in the same envelope because both ballots then become invalid. He or she is not required to answer the questions on the referendum.
The referendum includes three questions:
“Do you support the deputies to be elected by majoritarian electoral system with an absolute majority in two rounds?”
“Do you support the introduction of mandatory voting at elections and referendum?”
“Do you support the annual state subsidy granted for the financing of political parties and coalitions to be 1 BGN for a valid vote received in the last parliamentary elections?”
Mario Grachenov, an AUBG student, said that the referendum is an unique opportunity for the people to express their opinion on given problems.
“For the first time after the fall of the communism in Bulgaria – 1989, citizens of Bulgaria have the chance to express their thoughts on these topics. Said all this, I will just encourage people to go out and cast their vote on 6th of November,” he then added.
According to Carl H. Addoumieh, a second-year student, people should vote if they want their ideas to be represented by the government. “Because every detail of every small daily part of your life is somehow related to the government policies,” Addoumieh stated.
Georgi R. Georgiev, a second-year student, encourages everyone to vote because he believes that this is an essential part of expressing one’s political opinion. “When people do not vote, their apathy may threaten the democratic system they are part of,” he said.
Sabina Wien, an adjunct instructor, uses every chance she has to encourage AUBG students to vote and to remind them that through exercising their right they show their opinion. “Voting is a civic right and although it has been made into an obligation for Bulgarians, I do hope that AUBG students would vote not just because they must, but because they do have something to say,” she added.
In case of inability to exercise their right, Bulgarian citizens can present any document which establishes objective impossibility to vote in the municipality. This would be enough for a reason to remain in the electoral list. The elections code does not provide a procedure for challenging documents that voters present in the municipality.
This article was a joint effort of Elena Samardjieva, fourth-year student, and AUBG Daily’s reporter Marina Georgieva.