Electoral Commission says register ‘substantially correct’ despite HSBC heist convict featuring in list

The commission said it relies on reports and information from public officials to make sure that the registry is up-to-date

Malta’s registry of eligible voters is “substantially correct”, the Electoral Commission said in response to allegations that interdicted prisoners had been allowed to vote on Saturday.

The databse used for the general election was published in February 2022, with the Commission maintaining that its database was “substantially” correct.

The Commission was reacted to press reports said that Daren Debono ‘it-Topo’, the HSBC heist convict, wasstill registered as a voter on the first district. Debono was sentenced on 6 January, over a month before the closing date for the register.

“The Electoral Commission relies on various sources to keep the registry up to date, and cannot remove a voter from the registry, or add new voters, if the strict requirements and procedures set out in the Electoral Law are not followed,” it said.

Public servants are obliged to provide the Commission with any information requested to determine whether someone can vote. The Commission said it always acted according to such reports from public servants.

Indeed, the Court Registrar and Courts of Gozo are legally obliged to provide a list of people who are either interdicted for reasons of mental incapacity or who are serving a prison sentence exceeding 12 months.

The Electoral Commission said that it cannot stop anyone from voting if their name appears in the Electoral Register, but it does not mean that a person has a right to vote when they do not qualify to do so.

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi first claimed that prisoners subject to five, seven and 10-year prison sentences had been allowed to vote during Saturday’s early voting session.

He also said that prisoners known to have Nationalist sympathies but having the same sort of prison sentences, were not given their voting document by the Electoral Commission.

The Electoral Commission rebutted this, explaining that the register was based on reports from public officials without any distinction on political allegiance.

In a reaction, the Nationalist Party said that Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, and those appointed by him, must come forward and answer for these accusations. “It is not a fact that people who never had a right to vote in this general election were allowed to vote.”