The Maltese Parliament on Thursday approved through all stages a Bill amending the electoral law so that eligible voters who declare that they will be abroad on polling day at general, local or European Parliament elections may vote on the Saturday before.

The bill was later given a second reading, the opposition voting against. It was also approved through all other stages after Opposition amendments were rejected.

Amonst other amendments, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Tonio Borg put forward the proposal that a person that will be 18 years old on election day will also be included in the electoral register.

Minister Borg said he was surprised that the Opposition’s reasoning against giving persons who are abroad on Election Day the opportunity to vote a week before. He added that he couldn’t understand the Opposition’s argument that this amendment could bring about abuses. He also assured that even on Election Day at St Vincent De Paule home for the elderly, nurses representing both parties will be present.

Minister Borg also said that the Constitutional Law mentions that someone loses his right of vote if he or she is absent from Malta for a year and one day. Minister Borg referred to a sentence ruled by Judge Tonio Mallia in Arnold Cassola’s case who interpreted the fact that someone who is abroad for a long period of time but does not have the intention to emigrate does not lose his voting rights.

Minister Borg also reminded that the voting document only is required for a person to vote. Thus, the Opposition’s request for identity cards to be renewed by the 6th June is not valid.

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