As the general election approaches, the younger generation is faced with a new responsibility: the power to vote.
The next election will be the first general election after the 16-vote reforms that were implemented in March 2018. People between the ages of 16 and 22 will be part of the new generation of voters for the first time, making this election one of the largest Malta has ever witnessed.
Unfortunately, due to the tendency of the Maltese education system to treat politics as a somewhat taboo subject, apart from briefly mentioning it in the knowledge systems curriculum, many young people have no idea what to do. in the event of an election. Truth be told, it’s not just young people, adults of all ages suffer from the same lack of knowledge.
This misunderstanding leads to complete disinterest and apathy towards voting and politics in general, which is not only detrimental to social development but poses a threat to democracy.
So with that in mind, here’s a concise first-time voter’s guide to surviving a Maltese election.
1. Find out what neighborhood you live in
During general elections, Malta is divided into 13 electoral constituencies. Thus, the first step to take during an election period is to determine in which district you live. You can do this by consulting this page.
2. Find out who is running in your district
Once you’ve figured out what neighborhood you live in, take a look at the different candidates that will be running in your area. You can usually find each political party’s list of candidates on their website. Currently, only the PN has uploaded a full list of candidates, but you can also check by browsing Facebook.
3. Do your research on what the candidates stand for
Look at candidates you are interested in who have similar values and beliefs to yours. You can do this by following news websites from all political walks of life, following the social media accounts of various politicians and political parties. After all, the main purpose of voting is to get people who represent what you stand for and what you believe in to be your voice in parliament.
4. Research press articles about candidates to make sure they are “clean”
In recent years, Maltese politics has been rampant with scandals over allegations of corruption and criminal activity, particularly involving current and former members of parliament.
So making sure that the candidates you are considering voting for are not involved in scandals such as these is key to maintaining democracy and transparency in Maltese politics.
5. Understand the issues facing Malta
In recent years, issues such as corruption, money laundering, environmental issues, migration and overdevelopment have become increasingly apparent. It is important to understand these issues and how they affect Maltese society as a whole.
6. Use the research you’ve done to decide who to vote for
Once you’ve done your research, decide ahead of time who you want to vote for. Your vote should never be a last minute decision as it will only open the door to people who may not share your interests or agenda.
7. Make sure your name is on the voters list
Although once you reach the legal voting age you are supposed to be automatically registered, there is always a small chance that an error will occur.
So be sure to check whether or not your name is on the voters list by entering your name, ID card number and date of birth in the form found on this page. You cannot vote if you are not registered on the electoral lists.
If you haven’t registered, don’t worry, contact the Electoral Commission immediately and they should be able to help you with any issues you may have.
8. Learn how the electoral ballot system works
Keep in mind that Malta uses a single transferable vote system, which means voters must indicate their preference for candidates, by designating their preferred candidate as number one on the ballot.
Once a candidate reaches the quota, the additional votes for this candidate are transmitted to the candidate appearing in second position and so on until five people are elected.
Maltese district elections are highly competitive and sometimes go as far as the 24th count. Every preference vote counts, so be sure to fill out the list.
9. Make sure you know what documents you need to bring with you to the polling station
Just as one cannot vote without being registered on the electoral lists, you cannot vote if you do not have the correct documents with you when you arrive at the polling station. So, before you arrive at the polling station, make sure you have a valid ID card and voting document with you.
10. Find out in advance the location and opening hours of your polling station
A quick tip for surviving election day is to beat the crowds to the polls by going as soon as they open, so you don’t have to worry about failing to vote if something happens in the middle of the day.
11. Vote based on your factual beliefs
Always vote based on the facts and your own beliefs, not what your family votes. If you’re worried about people finding out how you voted, always remember that the vote is secret, so only you will know how you voted.
12. Remember that your vote counts.
Global trends show that many election results were based on voter-led movements, whether you agree with them on a personal level or not. Maltese elections are no different, especially as with our highly competitive district elections, a few votes really do make a difference and this needs to be understood and recognised.