Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Electoral legislation has damaged electoral process

1 November, 2004

Sinn Féin National Chairperson, Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin speaking after meeting British NIO Minster John Speller has said that since the new electoral legislation was introduced in May 2002 that almost 200,000 people have been removed from the electoral register and that this has damaged the electoral process.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"Since the new electoral legislation was introduced in May 2002 almost 200,000 people have been removed from the electoral register. This has damaged the electoral process. Year after year, in election after election increasing numbers of people, who are eligible to vote, are having their fundamental democratic rights denied.

"Sinn Féin's primary focus has been to bring about changes to the legislation that will make it easier for people to register and to reverse the downward trend. We have suggested a number of ways that this could be done. These include:

  • Replacing individual registration with household registration
  • Registration occurring every year but with voters remaining on the register for five years
  • Both photographic and non-photographic forms of identification should be acceptable
  • Abolition of Electoral Courts (personal identifier requirements supplied
  • on the registration form should be sufficient proof of identification and validation of application)
  • Registration should be allowed up to 7 days prior to polling day
  • Electoral Office to continue to provide official electoral identification.

"The Electoral Office has now decided to make more registration forms available but while this is welcome it falls far short of what is required. It is clear that the pattern of decline in the numbers on the electoral register has been not been addressed by the annual registration drive or the rolling registration procedure organised by the Electoral Office. As highlighted in the recent Pricewaterhouse Coopers Report commissioned by the Electoral Office 'unless [this] is rectified, the downward trend in the Register has the potential of embedding itself structurally in the registration process'.

"Sinn Fein believe that this downward trend has been embedded in the registration process and that only legislative change will rectify the situation. The result has been discrimination on a massive scale. This is unacceptable. People's democratic rights must be restored." ENDS

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