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Electoral Commission accept that voter registration is a problem

10 August, 2004

Sinn Fein Newry Armagh MLA Davy Hyland has said that the Electoral Commission have now accepted that 15% of voters are not registered. Mr Hyland also criticised the response of the Commission to the crisis.

Mr Hyland said:

"The Electoral Commission now estimate that 15% of people that are entitled to vote are not registered and that 'levels of registration among potential first time voters is a particular problem'. This is more than just a problem. It is a crisis.

"The impact of the individual registration system and of rolling registration has created a huge democratic deficit which is compounded by the way that the electoral courts operate and the problems with photo ID. The response of the Electoral Commission is unsatisfactory.

"The Electoral Commission needs to do much much more than try and enlist the help of Assembly members and political parties or to mount advertising campaigns. The Electoral Commission must urgently act on the need to change the legislation.

"It is undoubtedly important to develop 'stronger links with key stakeholder groups' and Assembly members can also help by stocking registration forms, raising the profile of the shredding of the electoral register at locally and 'generally encouraging registration'. However, until we change the legislative framework that has led to tens and tens of thousands of people being disenfranchised the problem will remain." ENDS

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