The Nationalist Party has called on the Electoral Commission to cancel voting held last Saturday at the prisons as part of the general election, saying several prisoners were not eligible to vote.

In a letter to the Chief Electoral Commissioner, PN general secretary Michael Piccinino observed that in terms of the law, people sentenced to more than a year imprisonment are not eligible to vote.

PN candidate Jason Azzopardi was the first to flag the concern, with his party subsequently issuing a statement saying court registrars had failed to notify the Electoral Commission about voters given prison sentences of longer than 12 months.

Court registrars in Malta and Gozo are obliged to notify the electoral commission every month the names of prison inmates sentenced for more than a year in jail.

Under electoral law, anyone serving a sentence longer than that is disqualified from voting. 

But according to the PN, several prisoners who should have been disqualified were nevertheless allowed to cast their vote. 

The Electoral Commission said in a statement that it relied on public officials to provide it with up-to-date information about voters and their eligibility and that it could not stop a person listed on the electoral register from casting their vote.  

In a statement on Monday, the PN said that the commission had on March 16 handed delegates of the political parties a list of prison inmates set to vote in the early election.

The PN delegate on the same day informed the commission that at least one inmate had not been struck off despite being ineligible to vote, since he was sentenced to a jail term of more than 10 years.

The party also told the commission there could also be other prisoners who were not entitled to vote, and it therefore asked it to carry out the necessary verification. The early vote went ahead regardless. 

“It is manifestly clear, as will result to the commission, that the list of some 180 persons issued by the Electoral Commission included several names of persons ineligible to vote, and the Electoral Commission took no action to stop them from voting,” Piccinino wrote.

He said there had clearly been shortcomings by the commission and the court registrar that had vitiated last Saturday’s electoral process.

The chief electoral commissioner was therefore asked to cancel last Saturday’s vote and to hold it once more after the list of eligible voters was updated.

The PN reserved the right to take the matter to the Constitutional Court.  

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