The new electronic vote-counting system due to be introduced this weekend for the European Parliament elections in Malta, will reduce to just three minutes a process that normally takes more than three days.
The parties’ projections on the majority vote is expected at around 8am, an hour after the manual vote checking starts. However, the entire process would only be just starting.
Electoral Commissioner Louis Fsadni explained during a walk-around for the media at the Naxxar counting hall Wednesday afternoon that ballot boxes will start arriving at the counting hall soon after the voting finishes at 10pm. Boxes will be opened upon arrival and the ballot papers placed in cardboard boxes ready for the next process, which will see the individual ballot sheets scanned.
At 7am, the manual checking will be done in the presence of party agents behind the Perspex, where they will be taking samples to be able to extrapolate the result and come up with a projection. Each and every of the 360,000 ballot sheets will be checked for any marks that may indicate vote-buying.
The ballot sheets will each be given a unique number by the scanning machine so as to avoid double counting.
Once the scanning process is completed, the system will start the counting process, from the first preference vote to the last count. This is expected to take only a few minutes.
Once the counting process is over, the parties have a maximum of four hours in which to file complaints.
The Electoral Commission cannot issue the official result before 11pm on Sunday, which is a deadline imposed by the European Union since voting in most EU countries will take place on Sunday till 11pm.
Chief Electoral Commissioner Joe Church said there are some 360,000 people eligible to vote in European Parliament elections, and 423,000 for local councils.
He said that until Tuesday evening, almost 43,000 MEP voting documents had not been collected, along with 96,600 for the council elections.
The votes of the local council elections will be counted in three batches on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, starting at 2pm.