[WATCH] Election Day: Malta goes to the polls today

Polling stations open at 7am as nation votes at the end of an intense 33-day electoral campaign

3 June 2017, 7:19am
Last updated on 3 June 2017, 9:45am
Ballot boxes were sealed early this morning before polling stations open at 7am
Ballot boxes were sealed early this morning before polling stations open at 7am
Malta goes to the polls
Malta goes to the polls today with polling stations opening at 7am until 10pm, uninterrupted.

Election Day brings to an end a short but intense 33-day campaign with well over 300,000 voters eligible to cast their votes.

The electorate has a number of political parties to choose from, with the campaign being mostly fought between the Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, and the Nationalist Party, led by opposition leader Simon Busuttil.

Adding to the PL (70 candidates), PN (111 candidates including PD's) and Alternattiva Demokratika (10 candidates) on the are Alleanza Bidla (4 candidates), Moviment Patrijotti Maltin (14 candidates) and two independent candidates.

A total of 209 candidates will be competing for 65 constituency seats, with 'bonus' seats being added to reflect the overall first preference votes. 

President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca casts her vote
President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca casts her vote
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Michelle Muscat cast their vote (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Michelle Muscat cast their vote (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil casting his vote in Lija (Photo: Chris Mangion/Mediatoday)
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil casting his vote in Lija (Photo: Chris Mangion/Mediatoday)
Alternattiva Demokratika chairperson Arnold Cassola
Alternattiva Demokratika chairperson Arnold Cassola
Partit Demokratiku leader Marlene Farrugia leaving the polling station shortly after 8am
Partit Demokratiku leader Marlene Farrugia leaving the polling station shortly after 8am
This is the 12th election since Malta gained its Independence. With 341,846 registered voters, a total of 8,372 voting documents remained uncollected – around 2.4% of all eligible votes – on par with the 2% registered in 2013.

The 12th district, comprised of St Paul’s Bay, Mellieha and parts of Naxxar, had the highest number of uncollected voting documents – 1,634.  

The second highest number of uncollected documents was in the 10th district, comprised of Sliema, St Julian’s, Pembroke, Gzira and parts of Naxxar, where documents remained uncollected.

Between assistant commissioners and other helping staff, the number of persons involved in the electoral process reaches 3,570.

After the boxes are sealed and taken to the Naxxar counting hall, the counting staff will start the rigorous exercise of turning the ballot sheets face down and grouping them in packets of 50. The sorting and counting of votes will kick-start at 10am sharp on Sunday, a process that will help parties project the winner.

A winner may be announced on Sunday morning, if the result is clear. It will take longer for the preliminary announcement to be made if the parties are close.

Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission warns that the use of mobile phones, cameras and photographic equipment in polling places is prohibited.  Anyone found contravening this regulation shall have his/her equipment confiscated.

President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca and Partit Demokratiku leader Marlene Farrugia were the among the first to cast their votes.

Accompanied by her partner and PD candidate Godfrey Farrugia, Marlene Farrugia cast her vote at the Qrendi polling station at 8am. Farrugia's PD is contesting the election in a coalition with the Nationalist Party, with its candidates on the PN's list on the ballot. Contrary to what happens with the prime minister and leader of the opposition, members of the media were not allowed in with Marlene Farrugia as she voted.

The President cast her vote in Balzan at 9am. The head of State emerged from the polling booth after a few minutes, to a warm welcome and a few friendly exchanges with the public.

Hundreds have already cast their ballot at this polling station alone, in the two hours since voting started.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Michelle Muscat cast their vote at around 10.15pm, in Burmarrad. Opposition leader Simon Busuttil will be cast his vote at around 11am in Lija, whilst AD chairperson Arnold Cassola voted in Pembroke.