Cyprus President Anastasiades rejects voting rights to non-registered citizens in the electoral roll

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has sent a bill passed earlier this month that allows anyone with a Republic identity card living on the island to vote in the upcoming European Parliament elections without having to register on the electoral roll back to parliament.

In his accompanying letter, President Nicos Anastasiades said the change would cause many practical problems because of the disorder in the civil registry that could not be overcome by May 23, plus it would cost the state over €200,000 to implement.

According to the constitution, parliament cannot pass any bill that increases the state budget.

If the bill were to be implemented, the president said, it would mean the automatic addition of some 102,000 people born between 1911 and 2001, or between 18 and 108-years-old.

Included in the figure were 17,000 Turkish Cypriots.

Around 11,500 do not have their parish of address registered and it would be difficult to assign them to polling stations. It was also unknown whether the addresses of the remaining 90,500 were correct, the letter said. In addition, to serve the new voters, the government would need to set up another 100 polling stations.

The president also argued that the whereabouts of 17,000 Turkish Cypriots could not be confirmed beyond assuming that most were either living in the north or abroad, or have died.

About 40 per cent of the total belong to the 18-30 age group, with 10 per cent of those being people who do not register to vote. Around 17 per cent are Turkish Cypriots with addresses in the Republic and the rest were people apparently living overseas who got an ID by giving the address of a local relative or who have since died but their death hasn’t been registered.

“Taking into consideration the tight timeframe until April 2, 2019, when the electoral roll will close, the interior ministry and the election service have strong reservations about the automatic registration of such a large number of voters of whom, it is certain, a substantial part is not alive,” the president wrote.

“This fact creates serious practical problems.”

The president said automatic registration could start before a later election, after the interior ministry made all necessary arrangements to register people who have turned 18, having their correct address at its disposal.

“The address affects the number of MPs by electoral district or councilors by municipality or community. It is believed that it can be done at a later election since time will be given to interior ministry services to carry our all necessary actions towards this.”

Head of the election service Demetris Demetriou said that an automatic inclusion in the electoral roll would be impossible for the upcoming European elections since the time left until May is too little.

“We will be waiting to see what will finally happen with the legislation the Parliament has initiated and its referral. From then onward, the process of registering new voters in the electoral roll and submitting statements for voting in polls abroad continues,” Demetriou said, adding that both processes have had limited results so far.

New voters are slightly above 1,000, while 200 voters have declared that they wish to vote in the elections abroad.

The interior ministry has budgeted €3.5 million to cover the cost of the upcoming European elections of May 26.

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