Updated: Aug 30, 2022
By Ġorġ Vella
March 24, 2022 at 12:00pm
A month-long campaign will come to an end today, and tomorrow is recognised as the “Day of Silence”. On this day, no one can organise any political activities, however, during the last General Election, both major parties in Malta held live Facebook broadcasts during Reflection Day.
On Saturday 26th March 2022, all those who collected their voting document are expected to report to their local polling stations to cast their vote. In order to be allowed entry, you are required to take your:
How is voting done?
The polling stations are open for the public to vote from 7:00 a.m to 10:00 p.m. as stipulated by Chapter 354 of the Laws of Malta - relating solely to General Elections. During these hours, all establishments within 50 metres of the polling station must remain closed, and any political propaganda/activity of any type is punishable by law.
Whilst in the station, you are expected to wait quietly in line until it is your turn to cast the ballot. Upon checking your voting documents, the Assistant Commission present will often ask for verification of identity, at which point you shall present your identification documents. Refusal to provide these documents or to answer questions (regarding your identity) by the Assistant Commissioner will bar you from voting. Upon verification, a ballot paper is given to you, and your name is crossed, making it your official ballot paper.
If for whatever reason your ballot paper is damaged before or during your vote (before casting it), you may request a new paper against the destruction of the one in your possession.
When casting your vote, consider all candidates, and vote on your fact-based beliefs and core values. Do not vote under pressure or threat from any person or entity - if this is the case, reach out to authorities. Remember that in Malta we practise a single transferable vote, wherein you vote for your electoral district’s candidates according to the above mentioned criteria. Your most preferred candidate is chosen by making “1” in the box next to their name and picture, and continuing with “2”,”3”, etc according to preference. You may alter between parties as you please, but only put one number in each box. You can vote for all candidates, or simply your preferred candidate only.
“Transferable” in Single Transferable Vote refers to the vote being transferred to your next preferred candidate, should your previous preferred candidate already reach the quota required to be elected. This is why it is important to vote for more than one candidate, however, do know that should your next preferred candidate come from another party camp, they receive this vote all the same.
You may not, for any reason whatsoever, photograph or record your vote in any way. This offence is punishable with a prison sentence as from this General Election. When your vote is ready, fold the official ballot paper, clearly showing the mark of the Commission. Verify this mark with the Assistant Commissioner present, but keep the vote folded (inwards). Upon verification, your vote is cast - in your presence - in the ballot box.
When this is done, you may quietly leave the polling station. You are requested to refrain from speaking about your vote, or engage in any political discussions. Do not go to political events organised before the official result is published.
How can you prepare yourself to vote?
In our last policy paper, we outlined some sources which may help you find out what the different parties are proposing through their electoral manifestos. Moreover, you can also stream the debates held, including last night’s Leaders Debate on TVM.
It is imperative that you adhere to independent media, to check the costs behind the parties’ electoral manifestos, and to assess each candidate contesting your district.
Do not give in to promises, and likewise, do not seek to sell your vote.
How is the election decided, and how is the government formed?
While it may seem obvious that the party which secures the most votes wins the election, history has proven that this can get complicated. In 2008 for example, PN had a relative majority of 49.3% against PL’s 48.8%. Here, a proportionality mechanism introduced in 2007 awarded the necessary extra seats to PN to secure a one-seat majority in parliament.
The most clear-cut result is in an absolute majority when a party secures 50% +1 of the first count votes, yet there have been instances such as 2007 when no party wins an absolute majority. Moreover, there have also been instances in the 1950s when no party secured a seat majority in parliament, leaving the two parties with the most votes to form a coalition - this is common in many other countries.
This time round there are also gender-quotas to consider, where a maximum of 12 extra seats may be introduced to award 40% of the seats in parliament to under-represented sex, which for the past 70 years have been women and gender-neutral persons. (According to law, those who do not conform with either sex are considered as part of the “under-represented sex”)
For more information on how the gender mechanism will work, and how complications may arise if there is no absolute majority, check out Mr Sansone’s article on Malta Today, released last Saturday.