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European elections - Portugal and Malta early voting reasons

350 million people across 27 EU countries will elect 720 members of the European Parliament, each using different voting methods.

Between June 6th and 9th, a staggering 350 million individuals spread across 27 European Union member states will unite to elect 720 members of the European Parliament. While the parliament to be elected will represent the entire bloc, each country has its own unique voting system, making the process particularly interesting this year.

The voting systems across the EU vary, with 19 countries using preferential voting, where voters can express their preference for one or more candidates. In some countries, voters can only change the position of candidates on a single list, while in others, they can select candidates from different lists. Candidates who receive the most preference votes overall secure seats.

Six countries, including Germany, France, and Spain, prefer closed-list voting, where voters can only vote for a party list without changing the order of candidates. The single transferable vote system, used by Malta and Ireland, allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference, with votes transferring to the next-preferred candidate to help them secure a seat.

Early voting is a new concept being implemented in Portugal and Malta this year, in an attempt to combat low voter turnout. In Portugal, early voting was introduced after a high abstention rate in the previous election, with citizens now able to cast their votes earlier than the official voting day.

The voting age for the EU elections has been lowered to 16 in Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Malta, with Greece setting the age at 17. Age requirements for candidates also vary across countries, with Poland and the Czech Republic requiring candidates to be 21, while Italy and Greece set the age at 25.

Gender representation in the European Parliament is a priority, with ten countries enforcing gender quotas on party lists. Countries like Greece, Spain, and Portugal must field at least 40% of candidates of each gender, while Poland requires 35%. Luxembourg leads in female representation, with 67% of MEPs being women.

Despite advancements in technology, the EU elections have yet to fully embrace digital voting methods, with only Estonia allowing electronic ballots. Postal voting is available in 13 states, catering to citizens living abroad, with Greece implementing the system for expats for the first time in this election.

Overall, the European Parliament elections are a complex and diverse process, with each country bringing its own unique voting system and regulations to the table. The push for increased voter participation, gender equality, and modernization in voting methods continues to shape the future of the EU elections.

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