Biggest Number of New Voters Expected in 2008 Presidential Elections
Nicosia, Dec 3 – As Cyprus draws closer to election day, in February next year, officers at the Ministry of Interior are bracing themselves to meet all the demands such a voting procedure requires, including having to deal with the biggest number of new voters ever expected in an electoral process in the Republic.
Some 515,000 Cypriots are expected to cast their vote on February 17 to elect a new President, said Mr. Demetris Demetriou, senior official at the Ministry of Interior, who is in charge of the elections department. Αbout 15,000 new voters will have to register on the electoral roll to cast their vote for the first time, having reached the voting age of 18.
In the presidential elections of 2003, registered voters were about 467,000. So far, about 320 Turkish Cypriots are included in this number, but this is set to rise to about 350. European citizens are not eligible to vote in the presidential elections.
At present, there are three main presidential hopefuls – incumbent President Tassos Papadopoulos, House President and General Secretary of AKEL party Demetris Christofias and former foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides, backed by the Democratic Rally party.
“Our main job now is to register the new voters, something they have to do by January 2, and prepare the 1,150 polling stations, depending on the final number of voters,” Mr. Demetriou said.
Polling stations will open at 7 am (4 am GMT) and close at 5 pm with one hour break at lunchtime, as it has been done in the past, Mr. Demetriou said, adding that the aim is to have no more than 600 voters at any one polling station.
“Officially, the election process begins on January 4 when the Minister of Interior will announce the elections and appoint the chief returning officer and his assistants,” Mr. Demetriou said.
On January 18, candidacies will be submitted. Each candidate will have to pay the nominal fee of 1700 euro ($2,486.85), be proposed by one person and seconded by another eight, he explained.
If no candidate secures 50% plus one vote on February 17, voters will have to return to the polling stations to choose one of the two candidates who secure the highest number of votes in the first round of elections.
The next President of Cyprus will have to secure, in the second round on February 24, the majority of votes to be declared the winner.
Ballot papers will be counted on site at each polling station and the results will be communicated to the district returning officer who will enter them into the central system of the Ministry, to be distributed via the internet to all outlets.