The British government is being urged to create a permanent rolling electoral register after it emerged that 100,000 voters in the Six Counties remain disenfranchised despite the compilation of a new list.
The electoral register was decimated in recent years following the introduction of bureaucratic new procedures, which required voters to fill in eligibility forms on an annual basis. British officials claimed the process was designed to prevent fraud, although large numbers of working class voters were disproportionately disenfranchised.
Stung by criticism, the British government restored some voters, and is now seeking to recoup others who have failed to register under the annual procedures.
Sinn Féin national director of elections Pat Doherty was unimpressed by Electoral Office claims that the number of voters on the register, which is compiled every year, had risen by one per cent after an autumn canvass of households.
The West Tyrone MP said: “The electoral register published today unfortunately confirms once again what Sinn Féin has been saying for some years about the flawed process in compiling the document.
“Well over 100,000 people have been deliberately disenfranchised and had their votes effectively stolen by the British Government through this process.
“I have to say that after the Electoral Office spending over #2 million on this process in the past few months I am decidedly unimpressed by the final effort which falls well short of an accurate figure of those entitled to vote.
“There is a clear need for a permanent rolling register to be established and I look forward to the new legislation being passed in the new year.”
All registered voters will automatically lose their vote again next year unless they re-register. Many voters assume once they had registered one year, they were eligible to vote the next.
Mr Doherty said today’s document should be the starting point for future registers.
The Sinn Féin vice president added: “The current proposal from the British Government to start the new process with a blank register is a recipe for disaster and we will continue to raise this point with the minister responsible David Hanson in the coming months.”