‘76 per cent of voters off register are nationalist’

Sinn Féin said that over 76 per cent of the people who have dropped off the electoral register in North Belfast, due to the new voting legislation, are nationalist.
Figures released this week have shown a shocking decline in the number of people who are registered to vote in the north of the city.
And as a result of the new voter registration process, the constituency has seen a drop of 2241 in those eligible to vote from the figures released in September 2003.
The extent of the problem in the whole of the North was illustrated by the publication of figures which show that a total of 28,000 people have disappeared from the electoral register, despite a high-profile advertisement campaign.
The introduction of the Electoral Fraud Act in 2002 meant that the old system of one registration form per household was replaced with one registration form being needed per individual.
North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness expressed his concern about the drop in the North of the city.
“This is a disappointing return by the electors in North Belfast,” he said. “To go down by 2,000 votes is a very worrying development and it is incumbent on all political parties and the community at large to register.”
Drawing attention to the fact that a Westminster election could be called at any time he also raised the issue of there being an assembly election if the current review process broke down.
Claims by Denis Stanley that the Electoral office did everything they could to contact people were questioned by the MLA.
“The Electoral Office were clearly overburdened by having the dual function of preparation for the assembly election and having to deal with the electoral register, it could be registration was not as effective as it should be”.
North Belfast Sinn Féin MLA, Gerry Kelly echoed the call for people to make sure they were registered, but also slammed the government on legislation which “is both discriminatory and fundamentally flawed.
“Democracy demands that more people who are entitled to vote should be facilitated in taking up that right”.
Making clear that the new legislation was at fault for the decrease in voters the Sinn Féin MLA said that the confusing legislation was a result of unionist and SDLP demands, and the government have “once again discriminated against the electorate in the North of Ireland”.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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