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House to decide on automatic voter registration on Friday

February 26, 2019 at 10:58am
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Parliament will decide on Friday whether to persist with a new law providing for the automatic registration of voters for the forthcoming European Parliament elections, despite objections from the government.

President Nicos Anastasiades has sent the law back to the House for reconsideration arguing that there was not enough time before the May 26 European Parliament elections to implement it.

Problems have been cited regarding the Population Archives which need updating including the issue of voters with dual nationality being able to vote twice and the fact that it appears to violate the principle that only those who have been resident for the previous six months can vote. Another issue is a ‘misleading’ increase in the number of voters which will propel abstention to 70% plus additional costs of €200,000.

In sending back the law, the president noted that the Interior Ministry wanted to introduce automatic registration once citizens turn 18, but  must first make sure it has the right addresses as it this affects the number of MPs.

The election service has cited a number of practical difficulties regarding the estimated 102,000 who will be automatically added to the electoral rolls, of whom 85,000 are Greek Cypriots and 17,000 Turkish Cypriots. For 11,500, there is no home address and in many more only the parish is available which makes to difficult to assign them to electoral centres..

Political parties will state their positions on the issue in the plenary although Disy has already said that it plans to back the president on the issue noting that Anastasiades has undertaken that steps will be taken to ensure that automatic registration can come into force for the first elections after those in May.

Diko is expected to follow suit, which means that together the two parties can secure a majority.

At issue is an amendment to the electoral law submitted by Greens MP Yiorgos Perdikis providing that all citizens are automatically registered as voters which had been backed by Disy and Akel.

Perdikis said that the president’s arguments were not based on constitutional issues and that he would be voting against. He said that on the one hand authorities are trying to combat voter apathy and on the other they are turning down a possibility to register 100,000 voters.

The problems cited by the election service can be overcome with effort and work, he added.

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