The Electoral Commission has taken the plunge and issued a tender for an electronic vote counting system for use in all elections from 2019 onward. The advent of electronic voting will substantially trim down the time it takes to count votes, particularly given Malta’s laborious Single Transferable Voting system, which takes days on end to produce the full results of electoral polling. The new system is expected to produce election results in a matter of a few hours. In its tender announcement issued this week, the Electoral Commission has made it clear that the system will certainly not be employed in the next general election, whether that is to be held this year or next, and specifies that it will be first used for tallying the results of the 2019 European Parliament and Local Council Elections.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Malta.
Malta: Labour Party still unsure on whether to extend general election voting rights to 16-year-olds | The Malta Independent
The Labour Party is still unsure on whether 16-year-olds will be granted the right to vote at the next general election, a statement issued by the National Youth Council (KNZ) said. The council asked all parties to say what their intentions are when the matter is brought to the vote. The Nationalist parliamentary group, as well as independent MP Giovanna Debono, informed the council that they shall be supporting the motion once it is tabled and a vote is a taken.
Evidently dealing with a sacred cow, Chief Electoral Commissioner Joseph Church believes that every step in the digital transformation of elections in Malta “is a journey that includes difficult, yet not impossible, tasks”. A firm believer in the opportunities offered by the new technology to “improve the electoral process”, Mr Church, however, rules out a big bang approach. “I am conscious that any development has to take place within a mature debate with political parties. The dialogue among all stakeholders, addressing concerns and ideas in an open and transparent process, will help avoid contentions on the digital transformation of elections in Malta.” One might question the need to change Malta’s accepted voting system, which has served the county well for many years. The main reason motivating other countries to embark on an IT transformation of their electoral systems is improving turnout. However, it is very difficult to improve the turnout at a Maltese general election, as the lowest since Independence was 93 per cent.
The Nationalist Party is taking a cautious approach when it comes to electronic voting following revelations last month that people who bought Maltese citizenship made it onto the electoral register without satisfying the minimum residency requirements. PN sources told the Times of Malta the party would only agree to use ID cards for voting, instead of the traditional voting document, if political parties were allowed to carry out audits on Identity Malta’s ID card processes. Last week this paper revealed that after reviewing the complaints filed by the PN, the Electoral Commission had conceded that 39 out of the 91 complaints were justified. The use of ID cards to vote would be the first step in a host of new technological measures in the local voting system.
The government calls it an individual investment programme intended to attract to Malta people with talent and money to invest. The more down to earth deem it a sale of Maltese/European passports and information tabled in Parliament indicates that is just what the IIP actually is: a sale. Over 80 per cent of the 143 successful applicants so far have signed five-year rent contracts rather than opting to buy a property in Malta. The implication is that they have no intention of settling here permanently, if at all. Chris Kalin, president of Henley & Partners, which runs the programme, was more succinct when he said that many of his clients were only interested in getting a Maltese passport rather than living here. In other words, they want a passport to Europe. The IIP scheme, which had not been included in the Labour Party electoral programme, was controversial from the start and amended several times along the way until a settlement was reached with the European Union.
Malta: Electoral Commissioner was ‘unaware’ of voting rights granted to IIP applicants | Malta Today
As the opposition is fighting the voting rights granted to some 91 IIP citizens, Chief Electoral Commissioner Joseph Church said that the Electoral Commission had been “unaware” of the constitutional breaches that took place until it was flagged by the PN. Contacted by MaltaToday, Church also confirmed that the commission has held an informal meeting with Identity Malta – the authority responsible from the processing of IIP applicants – to investigate the allegations being made. “The commission is currently carrying out a fact-finding exercise to determine what action to take,” Church added. Insisting that the investigation was still a work-in-progress, Church would not say what sort of action, if any, could be taken in the near future. “We are leaving all options open, The Commission will be meeting tomorrow to discuss further the issue.”
Malta: Passport buyers still given the right to vote despite red flags raised by Electoral Commission | The Malta Independent
Desk officers at the Electoral Commission sent e-mails to a number of IIP citizenship holders to inform them that they did not meet the necessary criteria, as laid out by Malta’s Constitution, to be placed on the Electoral Register. Despite this, these same individuals were still given a right to vote in Malta. In one particular e-mail exchange, an Electoral Commission desk officer sent an e-mail to an IIP citizenship holder about how according to her application, she did not meet the criteria to be able to vote. This e-mail was forwarded by the applicant to an IIP agent asking him/her to “sort this out.” The IIP agent then e-mailed the Electoral Commission (photo above) to halt the processing of the application. Again, despite the desk officer doing their job, the person was still placed on the Electoral Register.
Malta: New voting technology for MEP, council elections – Ballot papers to be scanned, not counted | Times of Malta
The days of “banging on the perspex” in the election counting hall could soon be a thing of the past under a plan to introduce vote counting software that will slash the wait for the result from days to hours. The technology is expected to be tested in the 2019 MEP and local council elections before it comes into use for all national polls. “Our voting system has needed a major overhaul for many years,” Chief Electoral Commissioner Joe Church told The Sunday Times of Malta. “There appears to be consensus from both major parties on the way forward. This will ultimately make our elections more efficient,” he added.
The bombardment of Facebook appeals for a Yes or No vote in the spring hunting referendum should in theory cease tomorrow as voters ‘reflect’ on the choice they face. The cessation of electoral activity 24 hours before voting day is not a custom but the law. However, it remains to be seen whether practicality will hinder the police from taking action against anybody who breaches the legal provisions on silent day, as it is known.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said that there will not be any subsidized flights for early voters. The Prime Minister was responding to questions asked by PN Secretary General Chris Said in Parliament. The Prime Minister said that the dates for early voting coincide with the Easter break, and that such arrangements cannot be applies that early as they could have a negative impact on tourism during a time considered to be a ‘peak period’ for the industry. In his question, the PN Secretary General highlighted that such subsidized flights have always accommodated early voters, who would be unable to cast their vote on voting day.