Malta among three EU countries where Maltese cannot vote abroad
Maltese citizens living abroad, like Irish and Slovak nationals, can only vote for their candidates by personally travelling to their country.
The European Parliament Office in Malta is currently undertaking an information campaign in view of the European Parliament elections of 24 May. Apart from the Maltese voter, the campaign aims to reach non-Maltese EU citizens residing in Malta.
European citizens have the right to vote in the European Elections wherever they reside. All member states are hence obliged to foresee procedures to enable European citizens to vote for the local candidates if they choose to.
Beside the right to vote for candidates of the member state of their current residence, EU citizens also have the option to vote instead for the candidates of the member state of origin. This may take the form of voting at the embassy, by post, via e-voting or by proxy. Different arrangements apply according to the rules established by the member state of origin.
According to the latest Census of Population and Housing recently published by the National Statistics Office in Malta, there are 12,215 European citizens residing in Malta. The largest three communities come from the United Kingdom (6,652 persons), Italy (947 persons) and Bulgaria (850 persons). These figures are subject to constant fluctuation. Informal data from embassies indicates that these figures might be much higher.
Figures from the Electoral Commission indicate that there are currently 44,729 non-Maltese EU nationals whose name appears in the Maltese electoral register. This figure may be misleading insofar as expats are not obliged to communicate their departure from the islands.
At a press briefing today at the European Parliament Office, a representative of the Italian Embassy stated that there might be in in fact up to 5,000 Italian citizens residing in Malta. He continued saying that in the 2009 European Elections the vast majority of Italians residing in Malta voted for Italian candidates through their embassy. The number of Italians voting for Maltese candidates was negligible. A representative for the German embassy pointed out that German citizens have the possibility to register to vote by post for German candidates. The closing date for this registration is May 4, after which German nationals receive the ballot paper which they simply send by post to the electoral authorities in Germany.
For those non-Maltese EU citizens who choose to vote for Maltese candidates, Maltese law foresees that when they register for a Malta ID card or residence document they are systematically asked whether they opt to vote for Maltese candidates or for the candidates of their member state.
After that initial registration any EU citizen may still register this intention to be part of the electoral register for the forthcoming European Elections at any time tile the closing of the electoral register.
Registration can be done through a registration form available online (http://bit.ly/1f5KIze) which needs to be submitted to the Electoral Commission (at Evans Building, St. Elmo’s Place, Valletta), the Identity Card Office in Gozo (28A, St Francis Square, Rabat) or to a police officer in any police station in Malta and Gozo by the 31st March 2014. One may also send the registration form by post. The number of non-Maltese EU residents who opted to vote in Malta to date is 7,391.
In an effort to ease the procedure for EU citizens who may decide to vote in Malta, the Electoral Commission has now further facilitated this process by allowing any non-Maltese EU citizen not be in possession of an ID card or residence document to still register by simply submitting his/her registration form and attaching a copy of an identification document issued by the member state of origin with two passport sized coloured photos.
For European citizens voting in Malta, the next step would be the scrutiny of the Maltese candidates. One can get to know the Maltese candidates better through a specific section on candidates' profiles on the Facebook page of the European Parliament Office.