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Alarm expressed at Electoral Office plans

17 June, 2004

Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP has expressed his alarm that the Electoral Office is planning to scale down the annual registration canvass this year due to a shortage of resources.

Mr Doherty said:

" Reports from within the Electoral Office are suggesting that the annual canvass to compile the register will this year be dramatically scaled back and be in the main replaced by some sort of postal operation. The reason being given for this is a lack of resources, the effect will be disastrous.

" Currently there are well over 200,000 people disenfranchised in the six counties. The adoption of a postal system for registration will mean in effect that it will prove almost impossible to reverse the alarming decline in the register. The Electoral Office will only be contacting those currently on the register, ignoring new first time voters and those who have already lost their right to vote as a result of the current legislation.

" If this system is adopted then I can confidently predict that the numbers on the register will continue to nosedive at an even greater rate. Our focus needs to remain seeing the legislation amended and the Electoral Office conducting as rigorous a registration canvass as is humanly possible. Cut backs on this crucial public function are simply not an option." ENDS

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