Junior College students have raised concerns over potential barring from voting in today’s Student Council elections after at least 15 students were told they could not vote.
“What’s happening here is that some second year students aren’t being allowed to vote because of the bar codes on their student card,” Owen Grech, the vice president of student organisation PULSE, told Lovin Malta. “When the scanners can’t read the code on the card, they are telling the students they won’t be able to vote, and are taking their card. They are removing the student’s right to vote instead of just checking the registry and confirming they are Junior College students.”
Grech wondered why they’d stop students who have been at Junior College for two years from voting in their annual elections, and called it “an attack on student activism”.
Grech, as well as other students, said the new police presence has escalated the already tense situation
Students Lovin Malta spoke to said that there were at least six policemen on site, with two Assistant Commissioners on scene as well.
“It’s so ugly seeing four policemen standing outside of the college,” one student said. “And why should there be police inside the college? The election is supposed to be for the students by the students, and they are putting us in a very bad light.”
“This is an extreme condition to be honest,” they continued. “This is a student election, there’s a big turnout, and to have Assistant Commissioners and police cars here from the morning… not even when there’s a fight do we see this many police cars.”
“And this isn’t the first time they did something like this. It’s like they want to kill student activism.”
An SDM representative raised another issue when Lovin Malta spoke to them
“Yes, there are policemen present – but that’s only to ensure that the process is followed properly and order is maintained,” they said.
On the issue of students not being allowed to vote, they pointed out how this whole thing could have been avoided.
“Students have lamented about the fact that their card not being accepted mostly because of wear and tear,” they said. “The administration has said that students having these problems will be allowed to vote between 4 and 5pm. While this will allow students to vote, it’s important to note that these issues wouldn’t have come up in an online election.”
When contacted by Lovin Malta, a Junior College spokesperson refused to give a comment, saying the college would be releasing a statement later
However, students who were originally banned from voting have been told to return between 4pm and 5pm today to see if they can vote in some way.
Grech said this wasn’t good enough. “Some students have to be at work at that time, and won’t be able to return to vote,” he said. “There’s no alternative.”