This weekend, hundreds of Maltese eligible voters studying and working abroad will be flying to Malta to cast their vote in the general election. This is no free lunch: individual voters pay at least €90 for the tickets – and significantly more for transport and time off from work. A government subsidy covers the rest: €1.1 million in the spring hunting referendum of 2015; likely more this time round.
It isn’t rocket science that the money could be better used introducing what other countries did decades ago: postal or proxy voting systems for eligible voters living abroad. Or better still, harnessing IT advances already at our disposal to enable an electronic voting system for voters living abroad, if not the entire electorate.
Besides making it easier for countless Maltese to vote from abroad, here’s another 10 things we could have done with the money saved from not having to fly planeload after planeload of Maltese people living abroad to vote in Maltese elections.
3. Put a down payment on – if not funding entirely – one or more of the many long-overdue national restoration jobs out there: Ricasoli, Fort Delimara, Xrobb l-Ghagin Temple, Mellieha Tunnara, Ghajn Hamiem, Id-Dar ta’Pultu and Ta’ l-Gholja Chapel
5. A year’s worth of On-Call Platinum Diabetes strips for 1,500 people with Type 2 Diabetes on insulin (€24.40 per box; 5 boxes of 50 needed every two months)
6. Cover the salaries of 80 new police constables – more than enough to man police stations in Swieqi, St Julians, and Bugibba, which never seem to have enough (based on the starting salary of a Maltese police constable, at €13,695 p.a.)