Siġġiewi’s 99 ‘ghost voters’

Labour’s dirty move to retain control over the Siġġiewi council sees 99 voters transferring their ID cards to social housing units that are not yet habitable 

“Nobody lives in this building which is still being finished,” flabbergasted neighbours told MaltaToday
“Nobody lives in this building which is still being finished,” flabbergasted neighbours told MaltaToday

A social housing site in Siggiewi has 99 registered voters who do not live there in a case of suspected gerrymandering ahead of the June local election. 

These ‘ghost voters’ had their ID cards transferred to the new address in the past three weeks despite the building not yet able to house people. 

Significantly, 73% of these people hail from three localities that form part of Housing Minister Roderick Galdes’s constituency. 

A list of voters seen by MaltaToday shows that 48 of the 99 individuals currently live in Qormi, 19 live in Siġġiewi and five in Luqa. The three localities form part of the sixth electoral district from which Galdes is elected. 

Information obtained by MaltaToday shows that no voters were registered as living in the block situated on Triq l-Imdina up until 31 March when the electoral register was published as is normally done every year. 

However, by 20 April when the writ for the European and local council elections was issued and a revised electoral register published, the names of 99 individuals suddenly appeared as living in the building named after deceased Labour MP Silvio Parnis. 

However, none of the 99 individuals currently live there because the apartments have no water and electricity service, and internal works are still going on. “Nobody lives in this building which is still being finished,” flabbergasted neighbours told MaltaToday. 

The Housing Ministry has denied any foul play, insisting the apartments are not in shell form and the “occupants are anticipated to start moving in the new social housing units within the coming days”. 

“Residents have begun the process of relocating to what will be their future homes in the community of Siġġiewi,” the ministry said when asked for its reaction. 

Nonetheless, the timing of this process on the eve of what is expected to be a hotly contested local election raises suspicion. The move has all the hallmarks of a Labour Party trying to ensure it retains control of the Siġġiewi local council. 

In 2019, the PL won a majority of seats in Siġġiewi for the first time in local election history. It was a razor thin victory that saw the PL obtain a mere 70 votes more than the Nationalist Party. The PL is hoping to repeat the feat, while the PN has made it one of its election targets to win back the council. 

On Friday, the PN filed court proceedings asking that the 99 voters be transferred back to their original addresses since they do not live at the address indicated on their ID card. 

PN secretary general Michael Piccinino said the PN was not calling for voters to be struck off the electoral register but to have their addresses transferred back to the localities they are currently living in. 

Piccinino described the situation as systematic misuse of government housing that is tantamount to gerrymandering in a bid to influence the outcome of the upcoming local council election. 

Meanwhile, the PL reacted to Friday’s court action by trying to paint the PN as being against social housing projects, an assertion rejected outright by the Opposition. 

Attempts to contact Housing Minister Roderick Galdes directly were unsuccessful. 

From where do Siggiewi’s ghost voters come
Locality of current residence Number of Individuals
Qormi 48*
Siġġiewi 19*
Luqa  5*
Ħaż-Żebbuġ 4
Mosta 3
Marsaskala 3
Żabbar 2
Santa Venera 2
Munxar  2
St Julian's 1
Floriana 1
Santa Luċija 1
Valletta 1
Gżira 1
San Ġwann 1
Mġarr 1
Naxxar 1
Żebbuġ 1
Birkirkara 1
Żurrieq 1
Total 99

*Localities that form part of the sixth electoral district from where Housing Minister Roderick Galdes is elected.