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Electoral Office infringing on Civil Rights – Hearty

5 March, 2009

Sinn Fein Crossmaglen Cllr Terry Hearty has said that the focus of the electoral office should be to encourage people to vote rather than enforcing a policy of removing people from the electoral list and denying them this fundamental civil right.

Cllr Hearty was speaking after he was informed by the Electoral Office that he must provide proof of his identity or he will be removed from the current electoral register.

The Electoral Office is writing out to households where there are, in the view of the Electoral Office, high numbers of adults registered asking them to seek a review of their eligibility to remain on the electoral register.

Cllr Hearty said:

"I received a letter from the Electoral Office demanding that I produce documentation which proves that I am who I say am. Failure to do so would mean that despite the fact that I am elected representative, have lived at the same address for the past twenty five years, can sign passport and driving licence applications and have valid Electoral ID card, my democratic right to vote will be removed."

Cllr Hearty added,

"During the week Newry and Mourne Council's Equality Committee decided to write to the Chief electoral officer on this issue. We did so after concerns were raised by a large number of people who had been informed by the Electoral Office that they were in danger of losing their vote.

"The right to vote was won by the blood sweat and tears of many. To deny this is an infringement on our civil rights.

"Sinn Fein elected representatives are working tirelessly in order to have this policy, which seems focused on removing voters from the register revoked."

Cllr Hearty concluded by appealing to all those who find themselves in a similar predicament as himself to ensure that their vote is not removed.

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