Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Blanket denial of proxy/postal applications west of the Bann

3 May, 2010

Fermanagh Sinn Féin Councillor Thomas O'Reilly has expressed deep concern about he claims to be the blanket denial of postal and proxy vote applications by the Electoral Office in areas West of the Bann.

He said:

"A trend has emerged in areas West of the Bann which points to the blanket refusal by the Electoral Office to grant entirely legitimate postal and proxy voter applications. This trend is particularly pronounced in West Tyrone, Mid-Ulster, Foyle and our own constituency of Fermanagh & South Tyrone.

"Our party is being inundated with complaints from angry voters who have been denied the right to vote despite providing the Electoral Office with the evidence they were asked for to validate their postal/proxy vote application.

"For example, we have examples of people who will be away on holiday on Election Day and who have provided the Electoral Office with documentary evidence such a flight and accommodation details. Despite this, they have been told that there is not sufficient evidence to grant a proxy or postal vote. We have countless examples of people who have applied for proxy/postal votes for medical reasons and who are housebound and despite having their applications validated by their GP or other professionally qualified medical personnel, they have also been told that there is not insufficient evidence to grant their application. We also have examples of applicants who are housebound and who have provided the requested documentary evidence that they are in receipt of the High Rate Mobility Component of DLA being turned down. And many other applicants have been turned down for a multiple of other spurious reasons.

"Unfortunately, there is no appeals mechanism to contest these highly arbitrary decisions. Serious questions now arise about the handling of this issue by the Chief Electoral Officer Douglas Bain. Incredibily, when speaking on radio this week, Douglas Bain himself acknowledged that the vast vast majority of applications that had been denied were entirely legitimate. So Sinn Féin will be seeking an urgent meeting with him and we will also be making urgent representations to the Electoral Commission about what has transpired. Serious questions arise and they must be answered."

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