Labour attacks delay on ID cards

The Labour Party has slammed the Government for spending the last five years “dragging its feet” on the ID card renewal process.

ID cards and the electoral process are intrinsically related

A spokesman for the party said new ID cards would help create a “healthy and correct” electoral register since the renewal of an identity card required physical presence on the island. The Times last week reported that the Government had “intentionally delayed” the renewal process until after the election to decouple the two events.

The issue of ID cards was revived recently after the Government said it was willing to start immediate discussions with the Opposition to update a controversial law that restricts voting rights to people who have lived in Malta for six of the past 18 months.

The law, which is being enforced by Labour, could leave those who study or work abroad for such a period of time without a vote.

Labour has said it would discuss a change in legislation but this could only happen after a nationwide ID card renewal was completed. Godwin Grima, who is responsible for the implementation of the new ID cards, denied this initiative had anything to do with the electoral process.

He said the delay was intentionally being made to “decouple” the two events and would also give the Government more time to make the best use of the new high-tech cards which could be used as an “e-wallet”. The new cards would include a chip that could be used to access anything from health records to banking information and electronic tickets, such as for public transport.

Dr Grima also said there would be no electoral consequences as a result of expired ID cards and that he had already briefed the Electoral Commission about the issue.

But Labour reacted by saying ID cards and the ele-toral process were “intrin-sically related”.

“If it weren’t so, why inform the Electoral Commission?”

Although voters used their voting documents at polling booths rather than their ID cards, the Labour spokesman pointed out that when a person was not identifiable through their voting document, their ID card was referred to.


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