Updated 9pm with revised figure
Just over two out of every five registered voters cast their vote by 2pm on Saturday, according to figures provided by the electoral commission.
The commission originally stated that just 40.45% of votes had been cast by that time, but revised that figure upwards to 44.75% after the Nationalist Party noted that early voters had not been factored into the calculation.
The commission said that 143,628 votes were cast between 7am and 2pm on Saturday, out of 355,075 registered votes - resulting in a 40.45% turnout figure.
A further 15,289 people cast their vote in preceding days, through early voting provisions, bumping the total turnout to 44.75%.
Both the original turnout figure of 40.45% as well as the revised 44.75% are significantly lower than the 2pm turnout of 52.3% registered in the last general election, back in 2017.
Data published by statistician Vincent Marmarà suggested that the 2pm turnout figure is the lowest in 15 years, with the 2pm turnout of 44.75% mirroring that of the 2008 general election.
Turnout by district
The electoral commission also provided a breakdown of 2pm turnout by district. The district breakdown was issued before the overall turnout calculation was revised upwards.
The figures showed that, as of 2pm, turnout was lowest in the twelfth, second and third districts, where less than 39% of votes had been cast.
District 12, which leaned PN in 2017, is not surprising: it was the district with the highest share of uncollected voting documents and also registered the lowest 2pm turnout in 2017.
Districts 2 and 3 are traditionally Labour Party strongholds. The party captured four of five available seats there in 2017.
Turnout was highest in the first district at 43,85%, followed by the fourth district at 42.81%. Districts eight, nine and 10, which traditionally lean towards the Nationalist Party, also reported turnout figures that were marginally higher than the national average.
During the 2017 general election, turnout at 2pm was higher in all 13 electoral districts and ranged from lows of 49.32% (district 12) to highs of 56.24% (district 1).
PN: Turnout at 2pm was actually 44.8%
In a statement issued at 7pm, the Nationalist Party said that the electoral commission had failed to factor in voters who took part in early voting sessions in the days prior to Saturday.
The PN said that if those 15,289 votes were also included in calculations, then overall turnout stood at 44.8%.
The electoral commission took note of that statement and issued a revised calculation at 9pm, saying turnout by 2pm when early voters are included stood at 44.75%.
Murmurs of low turnout
Turnout in local general elections is historically among the highest in Europe and has never dipped below the 90% mark in modern electoral history.
Reports of a potentially low turnout in this election have been filtering through for several weeks in the run-up to Saturday's poll and were lent greater credence by the repeated calls by leading Labour figures, including leader Robert Abela, for people to get out and vote.
Questions about low turnout were further fuelled on Friday, when the electoral commission reported that around 14,500 votes remained uncollected. That figure represents a marked increase from the roughly 8,500 uncollected documents in the previous election.
A poll by statistician and Labour Party pollster Vincent Marmará for L-Orizzont this week predicted a record low turnout for Maltese general elections.
His poll predicted 88 per cent turnout at the general elections, which have never seen turnout dip below the 90 per cent mark.
Should the trend continue throughout the day, the 2022 turnout could be even lower.
Times of Malta is receiving several reports from readers saying party agents were calling them urging them to go vote and asking if they needed assistance with transportation.
Voting remains open until 10pm in polling stations across Malta and Gozo.