Malta: Spring Hunting voting underway.


 

SHout spokeswoman Moira Delia on her way to vote. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

SHout spokeswoman Moira Delia on her way to vote. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Voters across the country are today heading to polling stations to decide the fate of spring hunting in the first-ever abrogative referendum. President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca and her husband Edgar cast their vote at the Lija Primary School at 9.30am, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his wife Michelle at the Burmarrad at 10.50am. Opposition leader Simon Busuttil will be casting his at the Lija primary school at noon and AD chairman Arnold Cassola in Pembroke at 11.30am.

Polling stations across Malta opened at 7am and stay open till 10pm. No queues are being reported. The outcome of the referendum will be known tomorrow and that of the local councils in a week’s time. Several people commented on social media that they were asked to hand in their mobile phones before going into the polling room.

In the referendum, voters are being asked whether they want to retain the law that makes spring hunting possible. It is the seventh referendum in 145 years but the first to strike down a law.

For the referendum to be valid at least half of eligible voters plus one would have to cast their vote. If the Yes wins, the law will remain as is and the spring hunting season will open. If No wins, no hunting in spring will take place.

But history will also be made today because 16-year-olds are voting for the first time in the local elections. There were 4,485 teenagers entitled to vote as a result of legal changes last year that reduced the voting age for local elections to 16. They cannot vote in the referendum.

There were 338,447 eligible voters for the referendum but 20,937 votes remained uncollected by midnight on Thursday. This equates to 6.2 per cent of the electorate.

The highest amount of uncollected votes – 3,433 – was registered in the 12th district (Mellie?a, St Paul’s Bay, Naxxar). This was followed by the 1st district (Valletta, Floriana, ?amrun, Pietà, Santa Venera, part of Marsa) with 2,012 uncollected votes and the 9th district (Msida, San ?wann, Swieqi, G?arg?ur, Ta’ Xbiex) with 1,932 uncollected votes.

Most voting stations are located in schools, but there are also some in parish or council offices. Activity started early today when the assistant electoral commissioners checked and sealed the ballot boxes in their stations at about 6am. Their work ends when they take the polling boxes to the former fair grounds in Naxxar where vote-counting will take place.

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