Two days before the deadline for registering to vote in the European Elections, the Maltese Electoral Commission is still not giving EU citizens the correct information as required by law.
Under European law, any EU national in possession of an eResidence card can register to vote by downloading the form or collecting it from a police station or a local council office and returning it there. The forms can also be posted or delivered in person to Evans Building in Valletta.
The Electoral Commission website, however, stated the forms needed to be taken in person to Evans Building, despite this being incorrect. Due to the difficulty in reaching that office and its limited opening hours many EU nationals were unable to register, or simply decided not to vote.
Following an email request from The Shift News to the Electoral Commission, one section of the website was updated. The Commission said it also took note of the Gzira local council and Marsascala police station’s actions, where a journalist requesting the information as an EU citizen was turned away.
The website, however, was not completely updated and the FAQ section still displays the incorrect information. A further two emails were sent to the Electoral Commission asking for this to be updated as well. The Shift News also asked if the Electoral Commission was set to make a public announcement to advise members of the public of the correct procedure.
Both emails went unacknowledged and unanswered and no action was taken. Most local councils are also failing to provide the correct information, according to news reports.
Following concerns about the misinformation given to non-Maltese citizens that are eligible to vote in Malta, Partit Demokratiku requested an extension to the voter registration period.
Stating that the procedures to register to vote had been “fraught with inconsistency, misinformation, and a lack of clarity”, the Party requested a two-week extension so that EU nationals residing in Malta could receive the correct information.
PD MEP candidate and Swedish citizen, Camilla Appelgren, posted the request on her Facebook page. “In two months they have only managed to update the new section of MEP election (well hidden) and [they] have failed to reply to questions sent to them about why the rest of the content isn’t up to date,” she said.
A further request for answers as to whether the site would be updated, whether a public announcement would be made, or whether the voter registration deadline would be extended, still remained unanswered by the Electoral Commission at the time of publication.
This is not the first time the Electoral Commission’s handling of voter registration failed to meet the required standards for European parliamentary elections. In 2009, the Head of the European Parliament Office in Malta had informed the government the Electoral Commission was denying “a basic political right” to EU citizens to participate in elections.