Voter registration drive
Voter registration drive

All those entitled to vote in the Six Counties are being urged to complete the new registration form in order to register their votes.

A new register of electors is currently being compiled in the last such procedure under the controversial annual registration requirement initiated recent years.

It is estimated that up to 100,000 voters were disenfranchised by the onerous registration requirements, which appear to deliberately target republican and working class communities.

While campaigns on the issue have been largely succcessful, all voters in the North will again lose their right to vote on November 13 unless they complete the current re-registration requirements.

Following the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, which became law on July 25, the 2006 canvass will be the last of its kind and will form the definitive register for years to come. It replaces the annual canvass with a system of continuous registration, whereby electors will register once and will only have to re-register if their details change.

Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd has welcomed the move to end the annual registration requirement. However he expressed some concerns that the new register is being compiled from a blank sheet and is not using the current register as a starting point.

“When the annual registration requirement was first introduced it was with the full support of the unionists and the SDLP,” said Mr O’Dowd.

“Sinn Féin correctly predicted that this measure would lead to tens of thousands of people being disenfranchised. Since then we have campaigned for a change in the legislation and secur”ed a commitment from the British government to address this issue.

With large numbers of people likely to be dropped from the register when it is published in December, Mr O’Dowd said it was important that easily understood fall-back registration mechanisms were put in place for 2007.

“However progress has been made and I would urge people to work with the Electoral Office canvassers as they begin their work compiling the new register in the coming weeks. This new system may take sometime to bed in but I am confident that in time this system will undo much of the damage caused by the previous system.”

The registration form and accompanying information can be downloaded at


Meanwhile, the moderate unionist Alliance Party has complained over the lack of charges over a “dirty tricks campaign” against the party at last year’s election.

Thousands of campaign leaflets in Alliance colours were sent to the party’s supporters urging them to vote tactically for the Ulster Unionist party (UUP). The leaflets were signed by a group calling itself “Concerned Citizens for a Shared Future”.

The PSNI said today that their legal advice was that a successful prosecution would be unlikely.

Sinn Féin’s Pat Doherty said that the decision “smacked of an attempt by the PSNI to protect parties linked to the new policing establishment”.

“It is beyond any doubt that these leaflets were bogus and were a pretty shallow attempt at trying to bolster the flagging fortunes of the UUP,” he said.

“If people are to have confidence in the electoral process it is important that all of the parties stick to the rules.

“In the past other parties have been found guilty of electoral malpractice in the courts which is the correct course of action. In this case it seems that the PSNI have intervened to ensure that such a case would not be pursued.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News