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Sinn Féin continues campaign on Register shortfall

4 March, 2004

Sinn Féin Assembly Member Bairbre de Brún today led a party delegation to meet with the Chief Electoral Officer Denis Stanley in Belfast. The meeting discussed the serious shortcomings which currently exist in the electoral register and particularly the issues of annual registration, the availability of registration forms and the number of people being called to electoral courts even after submitting these forms. The meeting also dealt with the issue of photographic ID.

Ms de Brún said:

"This meeting is part of a series of meetings which we will be having on this issue with the two governments, the Electoral Commission, international groups and the voluntary and community sector.

" In each of the meetings held to date we have argued that requiring every voter in every household to complete a form every year in order to get a vote is leading to the shredding to the register year on year. We need to move away from annual registration and allow voters to remain on the register for five years. The resources which the electoral office presently spend on an inefficient annual registration scheme could then be better used targeting marginalised groups and groups such as young people who have proved difficult to register.

"We stressed to the Electoral Office today the need for registration forms to be made widely available, for example at post offices, libraries, colleges, universities and through political parties.

"We also pointed out that the rest of Ireland and Britain make far less use of electoral courts. There are so many ways open to the electoral office now to carry out identity checks that it makes no sense to call so many people to electoral courts once they have completed registration forms.

"These and a number of other proposals which we put to Mr Stanley could help restore public confidence in the electoral system

"It is estimated that around 211,000 people in the six counties are currently disenfranchised. In the three months from the Assembly election last November a further 28,000 people were removed from the register. It is not a sustainable situation for around one fifth of the total electorate to be missing from the register." ENDS

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