House adjourned to October 1 - Electoral Law reforms rushed through
Updated 9.08 p.m.
The House of Representatives was this evening adjourned to October 1.
The adjournment motion was moved by Foreign Minister Tonio Borg, Leader of the House, who wished a happy summer to all MPs.
Earlier today, reforms to the Electoral Law were rushed through parliament with approval by both sides.
The amendments started being debated late yesterday and were approved this evening.
They provide, among other things, for a rolling electoral register and voting in hospitals and homes for the elderly.
The rolling register means that all those who turn 18 up to a few days before election date will be able to vote.
The Bill was moved by Justice Minster Chris Said and was today approved on second reading, committee and third reading.
Dr Said the amendments would mean less hardship to hospital patients and residents of old people's homes and fewer logistical worries for the staff.
He said that the introduction of the rolling register would mean that the number of voters would rise by some 2,700 young people.
Another amendment, the minister said, provided that all those registered to vote in Gozo but residing in Malta, could pick up their voting document in Malta following a written request. This also applied for Maltese registered to vote in Malta but who ordinarily lived in Gozo.
Dr Said said the restricted area which surrounds a polling station, which currently stands at some 50 metres, would be considerably reduced unless the Electoral Commission felt that radius was justified.
Opposition spokesman for home affairs Michael Falzon said this in effect was a government living its sunset days. He agreed with the rolling register concept.
He suggested that voting in hospitals should be held on the eve of the general election, or even further in advance, although this should be discussed at committee stage. Dr Falzon also agreed with the reduction in the restricted area around polling stations.
In committee stage, Dr Said introduced an amendment by which voters registered as patients in St Vincent de Paule Home would vote the day before the election between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Dr Falzon agreed with the amendment. He requested the minister to clarify whether patients registered at the other hospitals would be given the option to vote in the said hospitals or whether they would be obliged to vote there if they decided to vote.
Dr Said said that to avoid confusion, they should vote in hospital.
The minister introduced a new clause which requires political clubs that are situated within 50 metres of a polling station to be closed.
Dr Falzon remarked that had the amendments not be introduced in a hurry, both parties would have had been able to improve other issues such as “the ridiculous situation” where an election candidate had to declare that he did not exceed the campaign limit.
Dr Said that that while there was a need for further changes, the amendment referred to by Dr Falzon would have to be made to another ordinance.
The Bill was then given a third reading.