4 November 2004 Edition

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Radical changes needed to electoral law

Sinn Féin has called for radical changes in electoral registrations in the Six Counties.

Speaking after meeting with NIO Minister John Spellar on Monday, Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin said that legislative changes in electoral registrations must come about as part of democratic reform.

McLaughlin said Sinn Féin put a number of suggestions to Spellar. These included replacing individual registration with household registration and that voters remain on the register for five years.

McLaughlin also called for both photographic and non-photographic forms of identification to be acceptable on voting day.

"Spellar recognised the need for change and took on board Sinn Féin's proposed changes to the electoral legislation and indeed told us that the British Government was looking at registration occurring every year with voters remaining on the register for four years," said McLaughlin

Since the introduction of the new electoral legislation in May 2002, almost 200,000 people have been removed from the electoral register, damaging the electoral process, he added.

The legislation requires Six-County voters to register every year under the Electoral Fraud Act 2002.

"Year after year, in election after election, increasing numbers of people who are eligible to vote are having their fundamental rights denied," said McLaughlin. "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.

"At the meeting, Spellar agreed to bring back our proposals to the British Government and agreed that electoral courts should be abolished as part of changes in the electoral legislation."


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