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Sinn Féin proposes new registration system following publication of latest Register

1 December, 2004

Commenting on the publication this morning of the latest electoral register Sinn Féin National Director of Elections Pat Doherty MP said the significant drop in the numbers on the latest register once again demonstrates the deep flaws in the current system.

Mr Doherty said:

" Since May 2002 when the new legislation came into effect over 200,000 people have been disenfranchised. This legislation was introduced by the British government with the full support and encouragement of the SDLP.

" Sinn Féin predicted that we would see a annual shredding of the Electoral Register and the figures year on year since 2002 prove this to have been the case. The register published this morning once again shows a further significant drop in the numbers of people registered this time of over 21,500 since February 2004. It has already been estimated that over 211,000 people are currently disenfranchised in addition to this latest group. That represents at least 17% of the total electorate.

" Yesterdays announcement by John Spellar that he intends to reinstate the carry forward provision will help in a small way to alleviate this problem, but it is vital that this provision is introduced well in advance of the May elections. However given the recognition by the British government yesterday that the current system is deeply flawed there needs even more fundamental legislative change.

" Yesterday's announcement from the British government came after a long running Sinn Féin campaign and the introduction by our negotiating team of the issue into the political talks.

" Sinn Féin will be compiling a detailed breakdown of the register published today and this will provide part of a submission we intend to make to the Minister in the coming period. This will propose specific legislative changes and demonstrate other electoral models which have been demonstrated to work effectively in other countries.

" Sinn Féin will continue to work with the British government and the local electoral authorities to try and see introduced a system which guarantees the right of citizens to vote and undoes the massive damage to the confidence of the electorate which has resulted in the debacle of the past two years." ENDS

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