European elections cost €7 million to hold

People seeking assistance to vote increased by more than 700

A breakdown of expenses shows that €3 million were spent on remuneration for assistant electoral commissioners and counting staff
A breakdown of expenses shows that €3 million were spent on remuneration for assistant electoral commissioners and counting staff

Free and fair elections form the foundations of democracy but they also come with a price tag as the bill for the last European Parliament election shows.

Statistics released by the Electoral Commission show that the election in May cost €7 million, which includes the €2 million spent on a new electronic vote counting system.

A breakdown of expenses shows that €3 million were spent on remuneration for assistant electoral commissioners and counting staff.

Transport costs totted up to €439,000, while contracted services cost the Electoral Commission more than half-a-million euros.

The figures were presented in a report compiled by the commission that gave details in connection with the EP election.

Air Malta special flights

Excluded from the €7 million bill, is an expenditure of €815,000 on subsidised Air Malta tickets for Maltese abroad to come and vote.

The Electoral Commission said 525 voters and 270 dependents, made use of the special air fare of €90 last May. Of these, 43% came from London, 29% from Brussels, and 28% from EU cities where Air Malta flies.

Another expenditure not included in the €7 million bill is the purchase of plastic ballot boxes, which were used for the first-time last May. The plastic ballot boxes cost €34,000 and replaced the grey metal boxes.

Gozo alone registers drop in assisted voting

The report also shows that the number of people who requested assistance while voting in the European election last May, increased by more than 700 people. The Electoral Commission said 10,591 people asked for help to be able to vote, a possibility afforded at law.

When compared to the 2014 EP election, increases in people requesting help were registered in all electoral districts, apart from Gozo, where the number dropped to 708 from 764.

The districts with the largest number of voters requesting help were the first, second, and sixth districts. The sixth district includes voters at St Vincent de Paul, a residential home for the elderly. In each of these three districts, the number of voters requesting help exceeded 1,200.

Invalid votes highest in twelfth district

The report shows that there were 9,810 invalid votes cast in the EP election that ranged from intentionally spoiled ballots to blanks, and unclear voting intention.

A breakdown of invalid votes by electoral district shows that the twelfth district had the largest number of spoilt ballots – 1,698, or 17% of all invalid votes.

This was followed by the seventh district where 958 voters spoilt their vote in one way or another.

The largest number of invalid votes – 6,275, or 64% – were ballots that were scribbled on or left completely blank.

The EP election last May was the fourth such election. The turnout was 72.7%, almost 10 points less than the first election held in 2004 when Malta joined the EU.

The election was won by the Labour Party that obtained a record 54.3%, clinching four of the six seats up for grabs.

The Nationalist Party came second with 37.9%, taking the remaining two seats.

Imperium Europa, which fielded Norman Lowell as its sole candidate, came a distant third with 3.2%, followed by the Democratic Party with 2%.

Other political parties and independent candidates scored below the one percentage point.

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