European citizens residing in Malta were given incorrect information regarding the procedure of registering to vote in the upcoming European Parliament elections, as confirmed by answers received from the Electoral Commission that reinforced concerns by MEP candidates.
Up until this morning, the Electoral Commission Malta website stated that EU citizens residing in Malta could either download the application form online, or from local council offices, electoral offices, or police stations. Once filled out, the government website would instruct individuals to attend Evans Building in Valletta or in Victoria, Gozo.
Following concerns voiced by MEP candidates on European citizens residing in Malta being given the wrong information about the right to vote in European Parliament elections, The Shift News went to local council offices in Gzira on Monday, to ask for a copy of the registration documents (as specified on the Electoral Commission Malta website) and to ask if they would take the completed forms (as specified in the post by the European Parliament Office in Malta).
The journalist was told that she “definitely can’t get the forms from them or from the police” and was then given the number of the electoral commission instead.
A separate visit to Marsascala police station was equally unsuccessful as it was closed on the first attempt and on the second attempt, the officer on duty claimed he was not aware of the procedure.
Replying to questions by The Shift News on the concerns raised, the Electoral Commission said, ” the Electoral Commission’s website has been updated”.
But the section of the site that addresses questions from voters still displays incorrect information.
The alarm was raised by MEP candidates on social media. Partit Demokratiku candidate Camilla Appelgren pointed out the inconsistency between the advice given by the Maltese authorities, and that specified by the European Parliament Office in Malta.
She had quoted a reply she received from the European Parliament Office in a post: “Our office has repeatedly communicated the need to highlight the voter registration process – including the provision involving the forwarding of the voter registration forms from local councils and police stations to the Electoral Commission”.
Article 6. (1) of the General Elections ACT CAP.354 (the provisions of which also apply to the registration of voters in the European Parliament elections) states: “All applications which may be made to the Commission under this Act regarding the registration, cancellation, correction or transfer of a voter may either be delivered to the Electoral Office or the the Local Council Office wherein the voter resides or to any police officer in any police station in Malta or Gozo, or forwarded to the Commission free of any charge for posting.”
When Appelgren asked the European Parliament Office about the situation, they stated that they had been told by the Electoral Commission that all 68 councils had been trained in the procedure and should be able to assist.
PN MEP candidate Peter Agius criticised the Electoral Commission in a Facebook post for failing to inform EU residents that they are able to vote, calling the elections an “occasion to integrate expats in the Maltese political debate”.
EU expats in Belgium received a letter providing full instructions on how to register and vote in the upcoming Elections, published by Agius in the post.
A request has now been sent to the Electoral Commission to publicly announce the correction and to ensure that every EU citizen in Malta is aware that they are eligible to vote and that they can register to do so from their local council or police station.