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Youngest Sinn Féin candidate accuses Electoral Office of discouraging young people

5 March, 2007

Sinn Féin North Antrim Assembly election candidate Daithí McKay, who having just turned 25 is the youngest candidate of the main parties standing in Wednesday's election, has said that the behaviour of the Electoral Office is discouraging many young people from voting.

Mr McKay said:

"The hassle that many young people have had to go through to get on the Electoral Register in the north is nothing short of scandalous and judging from our own canvas it appears that the Electoral Office is responsible for many people unnecessarily losing their vote.

"I called at one house where a first-time voter had to spend all day trying to resolve problems surrounding his registration. Firstly a letter arrived from the Electoral Office saying that they needed a copy of his Birth Certificate. This letter arrived the day before the registration deadline and further to that the letter was dated as being sent the week before.

"The young man's family, who fortunately had a fax machine, faxed a copy of the document through to the Electoral Office. The Electoral Office then told them that the house's fax-machine must be broke, as they did not receive the document. When it was later made clear that the Electoral Office's Fax-Machine was not even switched on, only then was the matter resolved.

"It is quite clear that numerous people, including entire families, have been taken off the Electoral Register unnecessarily or because of examples of the administrative work outlined above. The Electoral Office must start taking radical measures to ensure that people can register right up until an Election and they must become pro-active in seeking to put new voters on the Electoral Register - not bar them from it.

"I have come across a number of cases where young people have had to fight to secure their right to vote and this is in an age where voting should be an absolute right. I would urge young people to go out and exercise their right to vote this week, and I would also urge those young people who have lost their vote this time round to fight to secure their right to vote." ENDS

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