Electoral Commission to take requests from organisations for referendum observers

'Bona fide' organisations to have representatives observing referendum counting process.

The Electoral Commission has announced it will receive requests from “bona fide organisations and groups” who wish to observe the counting of ballot papers for the 28 May divorce referendum.

The decision effectively allows the Moviment Iva ghad-Divorzju and the Moviment Zwieg bla Divorzju to have representatives in the area usually provided for candidates and agents in the building where counting of ballot papers takes place.

The Electoral Commission will evaluate all requests and, after taking into account the space available and the security requirements at the Counting Hall, will decide upon the quantitative participation of each accepted organisation and group.

Amendments to Malta’s Referendum Act in 2002 – a year before the EU referendum – give the Nationalist and Labour Parties exclusive privileges in the political supervision of all stages of preparation and conduct of the May 28 divorce referendum:  including the automatic right to field Assistant Commissioners.

But the Commission said that in accordance with the provisions of sub-article (2) of article 10 of the Referenda Act and sub-article (j) of article 90 of the General Elections Act, it will allow organisations other than the parties to have its representatives as counting observers.

Requests will be received up to Friday, 6 May.

Unrepresented political parties had already been officially informed by the Electoral Commission that they cannot submit nominees: a fact confirmed by Alternattiva Demokratika’s Arnold Cassola. “We have applied to have Assistant Commissioners, but the Commission pointed towards the Referendum Act, which limits representation only to the two larger parties,” he had told MaltaToday.