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Mass objections to ‘illegal’ voter registrations

election booth, voting, ballot, ballot box, elections, local government

More than 3,500 objections have been submitted regarding the registration of voters for this June’s local elections.

The objections pertain to voters registering themselves at new addresses, or registering to vote for the first time at addresses deemed suspicious.

Suspicious, too, is the sheer number of people registering themselves at new addresses. This year, a total of 20,890 such requests had been made by Monday’s deadline.

This figure is markedly higher than the equivalent in 2016, when 7,248 people registered themselves at new addresses, and 2011, when 9,500 people did the same.

In addition, multiple news outlets have reported that some voters have registered themselves as living in warehouses, cafes, supermarkets, betting shops, bakeries, vacant plots and even in candidates’ houses.

Speaking to Politis radio on Tuesday morning, interior ministry permanent secretary Elikkos Elias explained that “mass registrations” were submitted on April 2, the final day on which applications could be submitted.

He added that many of these registrations were submitted by representatives of political parties and candidates.

“They did it on purpose, coming on April 2, at the latest possible date and time, to make it harder for the district offices’ employees,” he said, adding that the interior ministry “as a name for holding elections … correctly and impartially.”

He added that district office workers were on the end of “rude behaviour” on April 2.

In addition to the more than 3,500 objections which have been submitted to existing registrations, he said “hundreds” of registrations were instantly rejected by staff as they were “clearly irregular”.

Of the objections, 1,517 were submitted in the Limassol district, 1,200 in the Paphos district, 566 in the Nicosia district, 130 in the Larnaca district, 100 in the Famagusta district, and three in the Kyrenia district.

Asked regarding the consequences of registering to vote at a false address, he said the interior ministry “will judge if there is fraud at the end of the elections, and then we will proceed with a complaint to the police”.

He added that while the bulk of the blame would fall on those falsely changing their address when registering to vote, “those certifying a declaration or change of address are not exempt from responsibility.”

Meanwhile, elections service head Menelaos Vasiliou confirmed to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that “a thorough investigation will be carried out, and if an incorrect registration occurs, a relevant correction will be made.

Over 200 of the 566 objections submitted in the Nicosia district were submitted in Lakatamia, where mayor Photoula Hadjipapa on Monday alleged “massive and illegal voter movements”.

She said residents of Lakatamia have submitted “a large number of objections” regarding people registering to vote in the area “who have nothing to do with Lakatamia”.

“As Lakatamia mayor, I feel that I have an obligation to the people I represent, the real ones and not the fake ones, to stand up against this sad development,” she said.

“If this new page in the book of local government shows even the slightest tolerance for such dishonest practices, practices which constitute a falsification of the democratic will of our people, the blow to our republic will be enormous.”

“I call on the people of Lakatamia, Tseri, and Anthoupoli to block the road of this concerted effort to alter the election result,” she said, adding that she calls “on the competent authorities to rise to the occasion and ensure the elections are conducted smoothly”.

“For my part, I will do everything possible within the scope of my powers to prevent such undemocratic, immoral, and unacceptable practices from happening. We do not play with democracy,” she said.

The Union of Cyprus Municipalities told the Cyprus Mail they are “aware” of the issue.

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