2 April 2009 Edition
200,000 voters disenfranchised by Electoral Office
Voter registration drive launched
A VOTER registration drive was launched by Sinn Féin Cllr Tom Hartley on Tuesday with a new information leaflet for citizens to claim their rights.
Andersonstown Sinn Féin representative Pól Deeds and north Belfast Sinn Féin constituency manager Shauneen Baker joined the Belfast Mayor in unveiling the new leaflet detailing how people can apply to get onto the register, how to get photographic ID, and how to apply to vote from home if a person is physically unable to make it to the polling station.
Tom Hartley said Sinn Féin’s leaflet is being delivered to homes across Belfast to encourage people to apply to get onto the electoral register “so that they can exercise a basic human right – the right to vote”.
He told reporters that Sinn Féin has, over the past few months, submitted over a thousand registration forms to the Electoral Office on behalf of people in west Belfast.
“Many of these people were refused their rightful place on the electoral register,” Tom Hartley said. “This is a disgrace.”
“In the last year, the Electoral Office has been rejecting much more people than it is adding.
“People have come in their droves to Sinn Féin advice centres and to community organisations to complain that they have been unable to get on the register.
“The Electoral Office should immediately abolish their unnecessary and excessive demands for additional evidence on top of a registration form.
“The access to databases that allows them to verify information received from electoral registration forms should be enough.”
And Hartley, who is also the mayor of Belfast, indicted the Electoral Office, claiming:
“200,000 people are not on the electoral register but are entitled to be.”
“That is a huge indictment on the Electoral Office that must be rectified. The issue is not one of unionist versus nationalist or republican – it is about the right to vote for us all.’’
Urging people of all ages eligible to vote to claim their vote or seek help from Sinn Féin and community organisations if they need help with their voter registration forms, the Sinn Féin reps urged people to take the time to read the new leaflet, ensure they are on the electoral register and that they have the correct ID to enable them to vote.
“Don’t allow yourself to be disenfranchised,” Tom Hartley said. “Your vote is your voice – use it.”