Fact-check Malta: Who can vote in Malta’s elections?

this year’s elections saw some 370,000 people eligible to cast their vote for their preferred candidate for the European Parliament and almost 460,000 people vote for their local council representatives.

Several online posts in recent weeks have spread confusion over who is eligible to vote, with some questioning the impact that Malta’s ever-increasing foreign population could have on the elections.

With preparations for the elections in full swing, we take a look at some frequent questions being asked about voters, including who is eligible to vote, whether foreign residents will be heading to the ballots, and if Maltese people living overseas can cast their vote.

Do you have to be Maltese to vote?

No, EU nationals living in Malta can also vote in both the EP elections as well as the local elections in the town where they live.

But if an EU national wanted to vote in Malta’s EP election, they would have had to give up their right to vote in their home country’s election by telling Malta’s electoral commission of their intention to vote in Malta’s election.

They are then added to Malta’s electoral register and removed from that of their home country, to prevent cases of double-voting.

Third-country nationals, on the other hand, cannot vote in either the EP elections or local council elections, unless they have obtained Maltese citizenship.

The exception to this rule is British nationals, who are still allowed to vote in local council elections (but not European elections).

What about Maltese people living abroad?

By the letter of the law, Maltese people living abroad can vote in Malta’s elections as long as they have spent at least six of the last 18 months in Malta.

But, in reality, this is widely disregarded, with the government once again offering subsidised election flights for Maltese living overseas, regardless of how long they have spent living abroad.

Just like EU nationals living in Malta, Maltese people living in other EU countries can also choose to vote in that country’s EP elections.

But, once again, they would first have to give up their right to vote in Malta’s election.

What about people who are unfit to vote or living in elderly homes?

This is where things get a little more complicated.

A person can file a court order to have a relative struck off the electoral register because of a disability or condition that makes them unfit to vote.

The courts evaluate each request on a case-by-case basis, usually in consultation with medical and healthcare professionals.

Things are a little different for elderly people living in care homes.

Residents of care homes are evaluated throughout the year by a three-person medical board, which eventually decides whether they are fit to vote.

The medical board is made of three doctors (often psychiatrists), one of whom is appointed by the electoral commission, another by the government and the third by the opposition.

Sources told Times of Malta that since the medical board’s evaluation is an ongoing process, some individuals inevitably fall through the gap as new residents move in to care homes on a weekly basis.

Who can stand for election?

To put it simply, anyone who is on Malta’s electoral register.

So, in practice, if you are eligible to vote in an election, you are also eligible to stand as a candidate in that election.

This means that EU nationals could have listed themselves as an MEP or local council candidate but third-country nationals could not.

Again, British citizens are the exception, as they could have stood for the local council elections but not the European elections.

But while you can stand for your local council election (and even, as of this year, become your town’s mayor) at the age of 16, you need to be at least 18 years old to be an MEP candidate.

How many people are eligible to vote?

A total of 370,190 voters were eligible to vote for this year’s European elections, marginally fewer than the 371,643 who could have voted back in 2019.

Some 355,000 of these voters are Maltese nationals, with the remaining 15,000 being EU citizens.

Far more people were eligible to vote for the local council elections, with up to 457,369 people potentially turning up to cast their ballot. This is roughly 25,000 people more than were eligible in the previous local council elections in 2019.

These include some 77,500 EU citizens living in Malta, as well as a little over 22,000 Brits, the only non-EU citizens who are eligible to vote.

EU, Fact Check, Politics

Author(s): Neville Borg

Originally published here.