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Assisted voting in last election only slightly up

Statistics show a much higher level of illiteracy in the southern districts

There was a lower level of illiteracy in the northern districts.There was a lower level of illiteracy in the northern districts.

The rumour that there was a huge increase in the number of illiterate voters asking for assistance at the polling booths in June’s election has not been borne out by statistics.

According to figures supplied by the Electoral Commission, on June 3, 17,902 voters took an oath that they could not vote independently and needed assistance. This compares to 17,349 in 2013.

The increase is therefore nowhere as large as some people had suggested in the aftermath of the PN’s second consecutive landslide defeat.

Following the election, rumours emerged of rampant ‘vote buying’ with some suggesting that ‘false’ oaths were taken so that voters could prove they voted Labour.

The statistics show a much higher level of illiteracy in the southern districts – normally voting Labour – than in the northern ones which traditionally vote PN.

By far the highest number of assisted voters was seen in the first district, comprising Valletta, Ħamrun, Floriana and parts of Marsa, where nearly 10 per cent of voters asked for assistance to mark their preferences.

Cottonera – the second district and Labour’s traditional stronghold – also registered high voting assistance rates, reaching 8.5 per cent, and an increase over 2013.

The statistics show a much higher level of illiteracy in the southern districts – normally voting Labour – than in the northern ones which traditionally vote PN

On the other hand, the ninth and 10th electoral districts, which include Sliema, Swieqi, St Julian’s, Gżira and surrounding areas, had the lowest number of voters asking for assistance, with less than four per cent.

While overall, there was a slight increase in the number of illiterate voters, in certain districts there were fewer people asking for help when compared to the 2013 election. Less assistance was required in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and 13th districts.

On the other hand, the highest increase was registered in the first and 11th electoral districts.

Speaking to this newspaper, an assistant at a polling booth in Qormi said that out of 400 voters in his booth, 63 asked for assistance and of these 59 voted Labour.

Although in the vast majority of cases those asking for assistance are not able to read and write properly, there are other instances, particularly among the elderly, where medical conditions prevents them from voting independently, such as those suffering from Parkinson’s.

Assisted voting

District Oaths 2013 Oaths 2017 % of valid votes
1 1,941 2,281 9.4
2 1,995 2,079 8.5
3 1,258 1,282 5.4
4 1,247 1,147 4.7
5 1,226 1,209 5.2
6 2,311 1,949 8.4
7 1,416 1,205 4.8
8 1,088 1,259 5.2
9 749 830 3.5
10 834 883 3.7
11 639 942 3.9
12 824 1,022 4.3
13 1,123 1,097 4.2
Others* 698 717  
Total 17,349 17,902 5.7

*advance voters; Elderly homes; Hospitals

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