Ittra tas-Segretarju Ġenerali tal-assocjazzjoni deheret fit-Times ta’ Malta ta’ llum. Filwaqt li l-ittra esprimiet qbil mal-petizzjoni li qed issir għal votazzjoni minn barra minn Malta fakkret li l-proposta anqas ambizzjuża tal-assocjazzjoni għal prokura biex jinġabar id-dokument tal-votazzjoni qatt ma ġiet implimentata u ‘qas biss introdotta fit-test tal-abbozz ta’ liġi li emenda l-Att dwar l-Elezzjonijiet Ġenerali s-sena li għaddiet.
L-ittra tgħid hekk:
Voting abroad by Maltese expats
I refer to the report regarding Maltese expats’ online petition to vote abroad (January 4).
Our association, Maltin fil-Belġju, agrees with the ends being pursued by the organisers of the petition. Not to discourage them, but they might be interested to learn the fate of a much more modest proposal our association has made in the past.
Expatriate Maltese not only have to take into consideration the fact that voting can only take place in Malta but also that their voting document is either delivered to a Maltese address or has to be collected personally by the Thursday before polling day. For those who do not happen to have a relative at their Maltese address when the policeman doing deliveries comes by, that’s at least another day to add to the inconvenience.
A few years ago, our association proposed that an elector be allowed to draw up a proxy so that someone of his trust can collect the document in his name. Nothing spectacular there. Proxies may be legally signed for just about anything and an elector is infinitely better qualified to decide who can be trusted with collecting his document than the perfect stranger that is the police constable delivering the document.
This would not have benefited only Maltese who happen to be abroad. How unlikely is it, in this day and age, that when a policeman knocks on a door on a working day finds neither a full-time housewife nor an elderly parent ready to take delivery of family members’ voting documents?
An amendment to the General Elections Act would be required and, as the party spokesmen The Times quote rightly say, that cannot happen with Parliament effectively dissolved. I hasten to add, however, that when the law was being amended last year our association sent this proposal to Minister Chris Said as soon as we got a whiff of the Bill’s first reading. It never made it anywhere close to the Bill’s text in any of the subsequent readings.
This issue deserves attention on its merits. It should not be confused, deliberately or not, with the other, separate issue of which expats have or should not have the right to vote.
Secretary-General, Maltin fil-Belġju asbl