Online registration must be extended to voters from Northern Ireland to end disenfranchisement

25 April 2016 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye.

Current system discriminates against Northern Ireland voters and leaves many young people excluded from crucial referendum vote on their future

June 8th: In a context where the deadline for electoral registration may be extended, Jimmy Kelly, Unite Regional Secretary called on the electoral commission to open online voting registration to Northern Ireland residents:

“Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where voters are not allowed to register to vote online.

“There has been a furore over the failure of the online registration system in Great Britain but total silence over the discrimination meted out to voters here in Northern Ireland.

“The upcoming referendum is a once in a lifetime vote and could have serious repercussions for our future, our economy and our society but voters here have had to jump through a series of bureaucratic hoops to get registered to cast their vote.

“Voters in Northern Ireland matter just as much as those from any other part of the United Kingdom. Indeed, Northern Ireland’s economy is more exposed to the negative potential consequences of this vote than any other part of the UK – it is a disgrace that voters here have been effectively discriminated against.

“Those wishing to register have to submit a paper application and, in many cases, present themselves to electoral offices with photographic identification – while those in England, Scotland and Wales can simply fill out an online registration form.

“The impact of this policy has been to disenfranchise many young people from exercising their democratic rights on an issue of vital importance. This is particularly the case with young people coming from working-class backgrounds.

“In the context where the deadline for online registration may be extended, we are calling for online registration to be opened up to voters from Northern Ireland”, Mr Kelly concluded.

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