Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Proposed electoral legislation changes necessary but still not good enough

1 July, 2004

Sinn Féin Chairperson, Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA has said reports that the British government is to amend the requirement for annual electoral registration reflect necessary changes but are still not good enough.

Mr Mc Laughlin said:

"The proposal to amend the requirement to register for electoral purposes every year are necessary but are still not good enough.. Sinn Fein has campaigned rigorously against this restrictive legislation ever since it was introduced at the behest of the other parties but particularly the SDLP and UUP.

"We have challenged the British government about the detrimental effect that yearly registration was having on the capability of individuals to register to vote. The result was the removal of over 211,000 eligible voters from the electoral register and the incremental shrinkage of the electorate on subsequent registers.

"While the detail has yet to be released this announcement is an admission by the British government of the undemocratic nature of its legislation.

"In a series of meetings in the past week I met with Direct Rule Minister John Spellar, the Electoral Office and the Electoral Commission on this very issue. Although this measure is to be welcomed there are still serious restrictions remaining and Sinn Féin will continue to highlight them until they too are removed.

"We also need to see the issue of photo ID properly addressed and in particular the detrimental impact that this legislation has had on young people and people from disadvantaged communities losing their democratic right to vote. The British government also need to address the issue of the Electoral Courts which are also acting as a further barrier to registration." ENDS

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