New rules for a COVID-19 general election will start being debated in parliament on Monday, with a view to being enacted by the end of the month.

The second reading of a series of amendments to the General Elections Act tops the agenda for this afternoon's sitting.

The bill seeks to “regulate voting for persons suffering from a notifiable disease or in mandatory quarantine”.

Earlier this month, Times of Malta reported that drive-through polling booths are being considered to allow people who test positive for COVID-19 to vote in the general election.

It is understood that this has been taken on board by the government. The Bill, however, does not go into that detail, saying that the Superintendent of Public Health shall hand a list of people in quarantine to the Electoral Commission, and the commission, in consultation with the superintendent, shall designate the date and place where such people may vote.  Such voting may take place days before the actual polling day.  

Protocols for ‘managed’ mass meetings have also been finalised.

Chief Electoral Commissioner Joe Camilleri, together with political party representatives and Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci have been working on the set of protocols since last year.

The authorities concerned are understood to be keen on restricting the number of people allowed into the counting hall, a situation helped by the expected introduction of electronic counting for part of the process.  

The move to push the amendments through parliament comes as Labour’s electoral engine is moving into gear.

Labour Party sources have confirmed that the organisation’s internal election strategy team had got to work in recent days with an eye to a general election campaign in the coming months. The government's five-year term ends in June. 

Surveys have been commissioned by the party to gauge public sentiment on several topics ahead of going to the polls.

A close-knit team of political advisers has been meeting at the party’s headquarters in Ħamrun.

It is understood that Prime Minister Robert Abela has two preferred options before him in terms of dates.

He could either go for a general election in early March, in which case he would announce it in early February or, alternatively, choose a day towards June.

Surveys have consistently put Abela and his party well ahead of his political rival, Bernard Grech and the Nationalist Party.

 

 

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