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20 March 2003 Edition

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Electoral Office not coping with demand

Sinn Féin Director of Elections Danny Power says the Six-County Electoral Office is not dealing adequately with applications from voters to be included on the electoral register.

Power was speaking after figures released by the office revealed that of the 200,000 voters missing from the new register, which became available last year, a mere 22,000 voters had been added in the last three months.

"The worrying aspect of this situation is that the Electoral Office isn't doing enough to clear up the backlog created by its own failures," said Power.

He said that throughout the Six Counties, Sinn Féin activists had reported that there are backlogs and lists of names already submitted are not appearing on the March addendum of the electoral register. "Sinn Féin is concerned that unless the office can clear and deal with this backlog, then tens of thousands of voters will loose out in the May election," he said.

"The Electoral Office is presiding over a mess of its own making, but the problem is that the voters are going to pay the price. The deadline for people to be included on the Register for May's Assembly elections has been set for 10 April. Given the current state of affairs, with the huge backlogs, thousands of voters will miss out.

"Also, people who need the new voter ID card must apply soon, as 16 May is the last day people can get this ID. Without photographic identification, people will lose their vote."

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the North's Human Rights Commission has written to the Chief Electoral Officer, Denis Stanley, expressing its concern that people with disabilities may not be allowed to vote in May.
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