The Data for Good Association, the Obshtestvo.bg Foundation, and the Anti-Corruption Fund (ACF), together with dozens of journalists, media, public figures, and volunteers, today announced the creation of the “Alliance for Fair Elections” (AFE) – a platform that aims to fight electoral fraud, vote buying, and controlled voting.
AFE will use data to draw media and volunteer attention to places around the country with electoral anomalies indicating purchasing votes or other types of fraud.
The alliance comes into existence after the changes to the Electoral Code, which were passed in December 2022, bringing back one of the most important tools for potential voter fraud – invalid ballots. Over the years, there has been plenty of evidence, statements, and reports that invalid ballots are used to erase legitimate votes of Bulgarian citizens.
Among the organizations that stand behind the AFE are also Actualno.bg, Dnevnik, Mediapool, Strazha, Foundation for Community Development and Cooperation, BlueLink, Blagoevgrad News, Za Istinata, Zov News, and others. AFE is open to working with more organizations and media that recognize the risk of electoral fraud as a major problem for Bulgaria and political representation in the country.
AFE’s priority in 2023 will be local elections in the autumn. In early parliamentary elections, the organization will also help protect the integrity of the vote.
In addition to analyzing data and guiding media and volunteer attention, AFE will organize public trainings where journalists and civic activists will share knowledge about different types of vote manipulation, their experiences covering elections, and more.
AFE’s work will build on analyses of polling stations at risk of controlled and bought votes published in 2021 and 2022 by ACF and Data for Good to identify the polling stations that need the most observers.
“The information we gather in the AFE will allow us to improve our methodology for assessing polling stations at risk, with a focus on local elections and electoral fraud prevention. We want to achieve better visual representation and collect audio-visual materials before and on the election day itself, including real-time coverage from the scene,” says Nikola Tulechky, creator of Data for Good.
One of AFE’s goals is to maintain a high level of interest in the issue of voting fairness in Bulgaria beyond the days immediately before the elections and during the adoption of amendments to the Electoral Code.
“Our ambition is for the Alliance for Fair Elections to be a lasting public factor contributing to the fairness of elections in Bulgaria,” says Boyko Stankushev, ACF Director.