Today, a month of hardcore political campaigning comes to a relieving end, and it’s now time for Malta to decide.
Whether this is your first General Election or you’re a little rusty from the last election, here’s everything you need to know about voting on the big day.
1. At what time can I vote?
Voting is open from 7am to 10pm.
While people can vote throughout most of the day, many people are being urged to cast their vote as early as possible, probably in a bid to encourage even more people to go out and vote. However, with an average voter turnout of 90-93% in all of the last three elections and Malta’s last turbulent political year, we’re willing to bet most people don’t need much more convincing. For this election, there are 341,857 registered voters.
A full list of all the candidates running on each district is available on the Electoral Commission’s website, and if you’re still not sure which district your locality forms part of, there’s this extremely helpful list to help you out.
2. What do I need to take with me?
Your voting document is essential.
For a couple of minutes, this document is going to be the most vital thing in your possession. It’s the only thing you need to vote, so take care of it today and make sure you don’t leave it behind you at home. Present your voting document to the Electoral Commission Assistant to be given a ballot paper. No document, no vote.
3. Cool, so now I have a ballot paper. What’s next?
If you’d like to double check whether your ballot paper is valid, it’s pretty quick and easy. Check for a circular stamp with the letters KE (that’s for Kummissjoni Elettorali) at the back of the paper, towards the bottom. The paper might also have been stamped by the agents of the political parties, which is fine. Any other markings, however, would render your ballot paper (and in extension vote) invalid, so be sure to flag any irregularities.
4. I have a long list of names in front of me. How do I know who’s who?
Follow the colours.
Candidates are listed down in different coloured fonts, depending on the political party they’re running with. The parties’ emblems will also help.
Quick side note: PD candidates will not be listed in orange, but in blue and with a PN emblem next to them. They will, however, have “Tal-Oranġjo, Orange” written down right after their names.
5. Weird question… how do I actually vote?
Simple – numbers!
Start by writing the number 1 next to your preferred candidate, and go on with the other numbers in the remaining boxes. Be sure to write numbers like 1, 2, 4 and 7 clearly. If a number is not clearly written, there won’t be an impromptu debate in the counting hall on whether that’s a 1 or a 7; your vote will be considered invalid.
6. What else can make my vote invalid?
It’s basically anything that isn’t clearly written numbers from 1 onwards.
Skipping numbers, or even repeating them, renders a vote invalid. Also, be sure to write the numbers down in the box next to the candidates’ names. Any other markings such as the ones below are not permitted, and—you guessed it—will also make a vote invalid.
7. Shit, I made a mistake. What now?
Don’t try to fix the mistake, and do not tear the paper up.
Don’t sweat it; if you make a mistake on your ballot paper, just give it back to the Assistant Electoral Commissioner and ask for a new one.
8. Ok, I’m ready. Where does my ballot paper go?
In that beautiful box in the middle of the room!
This is the moment of truth. Fold the ballot paper and put it in the ballot box. If you’ve brought in a sample ballot paper with you (some of these have been sent to households over the last couple of days) to help you, be sure to put the official one in the ballot box (those stamps at the back of the paper will come in handy here).
And voilà! Feel that? That’s the satisfaction you get from making your voice heard. Hurray democracy!
BONUS: Can I wait for my parents / siblings / friends while they vote?
When you cast your vote, make your way to the exit. It’s not permitted to loiter at the voting venue. Besides, you could use a bit of fresh air after that responsible ordeal!