Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced a snap general election during yesterday’s mass meeting, and we finally have a date; Saturday 3rd June.
As with previous elections, a significant number of Maltese people are currently living abroad, and serious concerns have been raised on the practical and economic implications of how they’ll be voting.
“It is time for our political leaders—from all sides—to ensure that our right to vote is protected, while at the same time safeguarding precious taxpayer money,” one person stated a couple of hours after the snap general election was called.
This morning, the Facebook group Maltese Voters Abroad emailed a letter to the Prime Minister, other political leaders, and a number of media houses a letter detailing why they feel like the current system for expats to vote is an unnecessary strain on taxpayer money, also detailing what could be done to solve this.
For Malta’s last referendum concerning spring hunting in 2015, a total amount of €1.1 million was spent flying 1,346 Maltese people home to cast their vote. Apart from that, each voter paid €70… double the price paid during 2013’s general election. “The costs are not insignificant – for all involved,” the post continued. Back then, a petition to make an absentee ballot system a key part of the general election campaign received 1,330 supporters.
The letter goes on to detail the negative effects that subsidised election flights have on tourism, seeing as they would displace foreign visitors to our islands… especially during summer’s peak season.
But the most important part of the whole letter (which has a full list of co-signatories provided) is the suggestions it provides. “In the short-term, our country should put in place what others did decades ago, and allow eligible voters abroad to vote in an embassy of their choice. Alternatively—and as is also the case in other countries—voters should be able to both receive and cast their ballot through the post. In the medium-term, we should harness IT advances that already enable an electronic voting system for eligible voters living abroad, if not the entire electorate.”
As the letter clearly states in its concluding words, “whichever route we pursue, we need not reinvent the wheel.”