According to the ACF, before the April 2021 vote, the potential locations for controlled and bought votes were in more than 2,500 polling stations, while in the November election, they had dropped to about 1,700. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) has retained the lead in all polls regarding the share of votes obtained in risky polling stations, followed by GERB and the Bulgarian Socialist Party.
“In the previous elections, there was a noticeable drop in turnout in polling stations at risk of controlled voting. This was due to a combination of factors – the actions of the Interior Ministry, the labor mobility of vulnerable groups, and the introduction of voting machines,” said Mario Rusinov of the ACF.
According to him, the machines have eliminated the possibility of some of the schemes, such as the “Indian thread” and the photographing of ballot papers.
Rusinov reports that among the factors is that some of the candidates who resort to this mechanism have exhausted their financial resources.
He gives the example of a candidate in the Haskovo region who dropped from over 13 thousand preferences in July 2021 to under 3 thousand in November 2021.
According to Rusinov, such differences are a strong indication that mechanisms are being used to control the vote on the one hand but also that they are difficult to maintain in such a saturated election cycle.
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