Phones and cameras banned in Bulgarian polling booths

SOFIA Thu Oct 25, 2007 8:05am BST

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SOFIA (Reuters) - Mobile phones and cameras will be banned from polling booths in Bulgaria's local elections on Sunday following reports of vote-buying scams.

Bulgarians have been bribed to vote for a designated candidate and then prove it by taking a picture of their ballot paper, the Balkan country's media have reported.

The reports forced parliament to amend the law last week to punish people who sell their votes with up to one year in prison. Buyers of votes face up to three years in jail.

State news agency BTA quoted chief prosecutor Boris Velchev as saying on Wednesday that prosecutors had launched a number of investigations over alleged vote-buying.

The central electoral commission has now decided to ban mobile phones and cameras on election day.

Bulgaria, which joined the EU in January, is the bloc's poorest member.

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