It’s no doubt that in the event of an election, the increase of social gatherings and other celebratory activities become much more of a reality. However, with COVID-19 still lingering around with us, rules are being finalized so as to prepare the country for the general election. These regulations will target mass meetings, a possible extension to voting day and a limited access to the normally packed counting hall. Chief Electoral Commissioner Joe Camilleri is undertaking the effort to draft such a plan, alongside political party representatives and Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci. A finalized version will be presented to the commission shortly, with newsroom Times of Malta reporting that the voting process will remain the same, albeit somewhat slower.
This is because of the capping of the number of people allowed in voting stations, with special protocols being worked on for the elderly and the vulnerable. Health authorities are also still grappling with how to grant voting access to those infected with COVID-19 and those undertaking mandatory quarantine. A source told Times of Malta that ‘having crowds falling over each other and smashing on the Perspex isn’t ideal, given the pandemic situation.’ Repatriation flights will also be held as normal, but there is ongoing discussion as to how to handle travelers from restricted zones.
The pandemic’s impact has wiggled its way into elections all around the world, with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance reporting that between 2020 and last September, at least 79 countries/territories had to postpone sub/national elections due to COVID-19. There were still more than a hundred elections and referenda, so the practice is still not completely doomed for the time being. As of yet, Prime Minister Robert Abela has remained mum on election rumors, deciding to focus instead on the implementation of the recently presented 2022 Budget. Election fever is setting in however as the end of Labour’s term draws nearer as of June 2022.
Photo Source: Times of Malta, Charmaine Gauci FB, Robert Abela FB