Missing: 100,000 voters disappear from electoral roll

Posted By: March 29, 2013

Daily Ireland March 08 2005

Around 100,000 people in the North of Ireland will be unable to vote in the upcoming local government elections, Daily Ireland can reveal.
Latest Electoral Office figures show that around ten per cent of the adult population will be without a ballot come the May 5 polling date.
According to official statistics, constituencies with nationalist MPs have less registered voters than those with unionist majorities.
The cut-off date for registering to vote in the 2005 local government elections is Thursday, March 10.
Anyone who is not registered by then will not be entitled to vote in May. Since it was introduced two years ago, the electoral registration system has been routinely criticised, particularly by republicans.
News that 100,000 voters will be without a vote in May has prompted senior figures in Sinn Féin to repeat calls for the registration system to be scrapped.
West Tyrone MP, Pat Doherty, said: ⤦For years certain political parties and indeed the electoral authorities in the six counties have been in denial about the scale of the electoral registration scandal that has seen well over 200,000 people wiped off the electoral register and effectively disenfranchised.

⤦The root cause of this is the disastrous Electoral Fraud Act introduced by the British government at the behest of the SDLP and unionists.
⤦During the last round of political negotiations with the British government, Sinn Féin made some progress on getting the legislation amended but much more needs to be done. It is vital that those people and groups most affected by the drop in the register get out and make sure that they are not denied their right to vote.�
SDLP north Belfast Assemblyman, Alban Maginness, said he was disappointed 100,000 people are going to be without a vote in May.
Mr Maginness said: ⤦I would appeal to anyone who is not yet on the register to get on it before Thursday. Not everyone is going to be able to but I would urge people to try.
⤦In general terms I believe the electoral register has been a success.�
Ulster Unionist MLA, Fred Cobain, accused the Electoral Office of not doing enough to get people, especially those in working class areas, onto the register.
He said: ⤦It⤁s worrying that so many people are off the register. I support the principal of registration that involves producing identification at polling stations, but it is deeply concerning that so many people will not be able to vote.
⤦I firmly believe the problems have been created by the Electoral Office. It has not done enough to make people aware of the registration system and the voting form it asks people to fill in is complicated.�
The constituencies with the biggest shortfall in voting numbers are in urban areas with north, west and south Belfast and Foyle the worst hit.
Electoral Office figures also reveal people living in rural communities have a much better record of registering than their city-based counterparts.
A spokeswoman for the Electoral Office said a statement would be issued on April 1 dealing with the issue of registration for the May 5 elections. She explained that electoral chiefs wanted to obtain a final figure on how many people had registered to vote before making an official comment.