Updated to include the Constitutional Court’s justification for its ruling.
Malta’s constitutional court has rejected the PN’s urgent request to have a re-run of the early voting held at Corradino prison following reports of dozens of prisoners who should not hold the right to vote but were nonetheless kept on the electoral register.
According to Article 58 of the Constitution, individuals who are serving a sentence of more than a year are not eligible to vote. The PN filed its case following the Electoral Commission’s refusal of the opposition’s request to annul the early voting session, requesting a revision.
Although upon the first urgent hearing of the case the PN had managed to obtain a temporary warrant for prohibitory injunction, meaning that the opening of the ballot box in question was postponed until the court ruling, that warrant has now been revoked, along with the case itself being dismissed.
The Constitutional Court cited a lack of jurisdiction. “With today’s sentence, this court has decided it has no jurisdiction on the plaintiff’s request. The request for a warrant for prohibitory injunction is dismissed.”
This decision means that the case is fully dismissed and that the electoral process will continue unabated, lawyers have told The Shift, although the court’s ruling was not made immediately available.
In its ruling, which was published a day later on Thursday, the constitutional court decreed that its lack of jurisdiction stems from the PN’s lack of a call for the suspension of the electoral process (which is catered for by Article 56 of the Constitution). As for the prisoners who were allowed to vote in spite of prison sentences exceeding 12 months, the Court used an argument similar to what the Electoral Commission suggested.
“The plaintiffs made no allegations regarding any voters whose names were not listed on the current electoral register during the voting process that occurred in Corradino’s correctional facility. For this reason, the (Electoral) Commission could not deny voting documents to people whose names were available on the register,” the court’s ruling reads.
Besides the cases involving people serving sentences at Corradino prison, the early voting process has been marred by allegations of questionable practices being carried out at Mater Dei Hospital and St Vincent de Paule’s home for the elderly.
On Monday, independent election candidate Arnold Cassola told The Shift that he had been contacted by six people stating that non-communicative patients at Mater Dei hospital were still certified as eligible to vote.
Former host of TV programme Xarabank, ‘Peppi’ Azzopardi publicly stated that his mother, who suffers from dementia, was also taken to a voting centre in spite of her impaired cognitive function. Azzopardi also said that the family, which would normally be regularly informed about matters relating to his mother, had not been informed.