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Bulgaria Employs Online Tools to Ensure Safe and Fair Elections

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 9 2013

Bokyo Borisov after his resignation via Wikipedia

While some activists threaten violence in the run up to Bulgaria’s upcoming election on May 12, others have created online tools to help inform voters and safeguard the electoral process.

The election was supposed to take place in July, but it was bumped up after Prime Minister Bokyo Borisov and his center-right GERB party resigned in February following mass protests over low living standards, high utility bills and corruption. In spite of the demonstrations, it seems as though the GERB will be voted back into the Bulgarian parliament, which has some Bulgarian activists planning protests for Sunday’s election.

Many Bulgarians are disenchanted with their country’s politics entirely. Deyan Enchev, a student Reuters interviewed in Sofia, said, “I already voted at the previous elections and I saw that nothing changed. On the contrary, it got worse.” Global Voices Online chronicled other examples of voter skepticism and disillusionment.

There are also questions regarding the fairness of the upcoming election, says Global Voices Online, and in response at least four online tools popped up to deal with voting issues.

The Institute for Public Environment Development, a Bulgarian nonprofit that promotes citizen participation in government, created a mobile app called “I vote.” The platform informs users of their voting rights and obligations and will let them monitor the fairness of the election – no specifics (at least in English) on what the monitoring will involve.

An Ushahidi-powered crowdmap “For Fair Elections” will gather reports of violations submitted via Facebook, Twitter and email. To date there are already 28 reports. A website titled Public Campaign Against Buying and Controlling the Vote will collect election-related news and updates and also inform visitors on how to combat corruption. The website makes use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Finally, in addition to the three online or mobile tools, Global Voices points out that netizens can share information about the election by using the following hashtags: #bgizbori2013, #izbori2013 and #izbori.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.