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Sinn Féin calls for electoral law change

13 October, 2004

Sinn Fein Mid Ulster MP Martin McGuinness was this afternoon joined by party colleagues David Kennedy (North Belfast) and Angela Nelson (Lagan Valley) to launch the party's electoral registration campaign.

Speaking at the Belfast press conference Mr McGuinness said:

"Since the new legislation was introduced in May 2002 almost 200, 000 people have been removed from the electoral register.

"The annual registration drive and the rolling registration procedure organised by the Electoral Office have failed to impact on, in any significant way, this stark decline.

"A pattern has now been established within the registration procedure where this decline will continue.

"This was highlighted in a report commissioned by the Electoral Office from Pricewaterhouse Coopers in August when they said: "Unless it is rectified, the downward trend in the Register has the potential of embedding itself structurally in the registration process."

"We believe the downward trend has embedded itself and the only way of rectifying this is through changing the legislation.

"We are calling on the British government to immediately bring forward the necessary changes before next year's elections.

"These changes should include: household registration; a five year cycle and not a one year cycle as we have now for registering voters; the abolition of electoral courts and the acceptance of photographic and non-photographic forms of identification." This discrimination on a massive scale should end immediately and people's democratic rights must be restored. In the meantime it is crucial that people across the six counties ensure that they fill in the forms they have received and if they have not received a form then they should contact either Sinn Féin or the Electoral Office." ENDS

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