Few new voters have expressed any interest in taking part in the May European parliamentary elections, election service head Demetris Demetriou said on Wednesday.
The number of voters aged 18 to 30 years eligible to vote is 136,137, but 43,500 of them are not on the electoral roll.
He told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that only around 500 new voters had enrolled between July and September, and from October until now just 120 people showed an interest in voting.
“If we continue at the same pace until the end of December, I doubt we will reach 250 to 300 new voter registrations,” he said.
The last day of registration for the elections is April 2, 2019.
The interior ministry intends to send letters explaining the registration process, probably to those born from 1998 and 2001. The number of voters born during these years is around 20,000.
Demetriou was making the statements to CNA after amendments to the bill on European parliament elections were passed on Tuesday by the council of ministers and submitted to parliament.
Of these, the most significant refers to the submission of candidatures. From now on, submissions have to be made at least three weeks before the elections, whereas up to now this period was seven days.
While this change was made by the EU, the other amendments are at the national level, taking into account the practices during the previous three elections in Cyprus.
One concerns the abolition of the mandatory vote, following a similar change made for parliamentary elections which has been in place since 2016. Though people had to vote by law for the EU elections, non-compliance did not carry penalties, Demetriou pointed out.
Another amendment concerns Turkish Cypriot voters. In 2014, a provision was made that those residing in the north had to attend the polls to make a statement about their address in the north before casting their vote.
This did not create a major problem as the number of Turkish Cypriot voters was limited but a big increase in participation would create problems for the electoral process at polling stations, which is why it was decided to abolish this legislation.
Demetriou noted that the bill needs to be voted for quickly by parliament because it should be implemented in time for next year’s elections.
Within a week a final decision on where to run polling stations abroad is expected, he said, adding that the election service’s suggestion is to operate them in Greece and the UK.