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Bulgarian tennis star leads the campaign for the introduction of electronic voting

25 September 2015 / 19:09:50  GRReporter
3913 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

For tennis fans, Manuela Maleeva is a sports legend who has been third in the world rankings. She played on the courts from a young age and as early as 1981, she won the Orange Bowl for girls aged under 14 and a year later the French Open.

Manuela Maleeva is the only Bulgarian tennis player who has won the Grand Slam. Her triumphant withdrawal from professional tennis was in 1994 when she won the tournament in Osaka. Since 1987, she has lived in Switzerland but has not interrupted her connection with Bulgaria. She has recently worked with the Swissclinical Foundation, which cares for children with orthopaedic diseases in Bulgaria.

The legendary tennis player has a very active civic position, which has recently been expressed through her participation in the initiative committee "Vote without borders". Its participants support the positive vote in the referendum on electronic voting, which will be held in Bulgaria and all countries where Bulgarian citizens are living on 25 October.

Today the initiative committee launched its information campaign in support of electronic voting. As its representative, Manuela Maleeva gave an interview for GRReporter, in which she explained the advantages of electronic voting and above all the need for its introduction.

Mrs Maleeva, why have you initiated the campaign in support of electronic voting? What are your reasons for this?

I believe that electronic voting is very important for Bulgaria. The people in the enterprising committee are my friends and we are all convinced that we are standing behind a good cause.

Electronic voting is important because in Bulgaria we need it for several reasons. Firstly, for people like me who do not live in Bulgaria most of the time - I live in Switzerland most of the time - voting is associated with a significant organization. Switzerland is a small country, the distances there are not very great but going to the embassy and on the day of the vote being where we can go to vote, is not always possible and is a difficult task. Moreover, many Bulgarians live abroad who have families in Bulgaria and therefore they care about what happens there. Consequently, electronic voting would be a great convenience for Bulgarians abroad.

The same applies for the Bulgarians living in Bulgaria too. Being able to vote from your own computer with two clicks is a huge convenience. Of course, traditional voting at polling stations will be preserved as well. I am saying this because some media in Bulgaria have started to disseminate information regarding its cancellation, thus logically embarrassing the elderly. Electronic voting will facilitate people with physical disabilities.

Another reason to insist on the introduction of electronic voting is that it is a way to reduce fraud. We are aware that the current system is not working at all. It is no secret that there is trade in votes, we know how they are collected, how much they cost, etc. The opponents of electronic voting say there are risks of a breakthrough in the system but at this stage, we are not discussing how to organize it. Experts from other countries may be invited for its introduction, where electronic voting has been introduced, so that the safest and the best system is created. Those who want to lie and cheat will always find a way, but I think that electronic voting will significantly prevent them from doing so. I think that one of the reasons for the opponents of electronic voting to fight so fiercely against its adoption is because they are aware that committing fraud will become much more difficult.

Electronic voting will be the unification of all Bulgarians. We are so divided at present, not only physically, but also in thinking. Anyway, the relations between us are now taking place via the Internet, we trust in banks that operate with our money online. I think that voting can also be done this way.

As a person living abroad, do you think that electronic voting would lead to increased voter turnout among Bulgarians outside Bulgaria?

Yes, absolutely. I see this among my friends in Switzerland while commenting on how much it will facilitate voting. All these Bulgarians have families in Bulgaria. Many of them want to return one day to a different and better Bulgaria. They have left for economic reasons but also because they are very well aware of what is happening in Bulgaria and they are looking for something else outside it.

I think voter turnout will significantly increase, and above all, among young people who use all these new technologies with great ease. It is important for young people to actively participate in the political life of Bulgaria.

How would you explain the negative attitude towards electronic voting on the part of much of the Bulgarian political elite and a large part of society?

As for society, I cannot be specific because those Bulgarians abroad whom I know have a very positive attitude towards electronic voting.

As for the political parties, consider how difficult it is to push in Bulgaria reforms aimed at reducing corruption and fraud. Maybe the answer should be sought there.

My opinion is that the status quo wants to keep the controlling lifestyle. It wants the people to continue to live in misery because they are most easily controlled in this way. Electronic voting gives a lot more freedom.

Tags: PoliticsEnterprising committee in support of electronic votingManuela MaleevaReferendum
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