Electoral Commission
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Northern Ireland Assembly election was well run, concludes Electoral Commission, but voters are warned to check that they are registered

The Electoral Commission has today published its report on the administration of the March 2017 Northern Ireland Assembly election. More than 812,000 votes were cast at the election, representing a turnout of 64.8% - the highest turnout since the first Assembly election in 1998.

Public opinion research for the report suggests that most voters had a positive view of the electoral process and were confident that the election was well-run (86%). The report also praises the Chief Electoral Officer for the successful delivery of the election, particularly in light of the short notice given to prepare. It was the first election to the Assembly where all candidates were elected without the need for the count to move into a second day.

However the report also highlights that a total of 3,475 people from across Northern Ireland were turned away from the polling station on 2 March because they were not on the electoral register. This followed the removal of more than 60,000 voters from the electoral register in December 2016 who had not updated their registration details.

Ann Watt, Head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland, said:

“There is no doubt that organising and running an election with just over six weeks’ notice was challenging for the Chief Electoral Officer and her staff but we are pleased to report today that overall the Assembly election was well-run. We know that preparations are well underway for the UK Parliamentary General Election on 8 June and our report should give voters confidence that these plans can deliver another successful election in Northern Ireland.

“There is now less than one week left to register to vote for the upcoming UK general election. It was disappointing to report that almost 3,500 would-be voters did not get to have their say at the March election as they were not on the electoral register. Poll cards for the UK general election have already been issued so if you have not received one or if you are not sure if you’re registered to vote then you should contact the Electoral Office helpline on 0800 4320 712.”

People can download an electoral registration form and find out more information on the UK general election at yourvotematters.co.uk. The deadline for completing and returning an electoral registration form is Monday 22 May.

Voters who cannot make it to their polling station on 8 June only have until Thursday 18 May to apply for a postal or proxy vote. Application forms are available from www.eoni.org.uk

The Electoral Commission’s report on the election is available to view on our website.

Contact

For further information please contact Cahir Hughes on 028 9089 4023 or chughes@electoralcommission.org.uk.

Out of office hours 07789 920 414

Notes to editors

The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

  1. The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:
    • enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focusing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
    • regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
    • using our expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy, aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency
  2. The Commission published its report on May 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly in September 2016. You can view that report here.
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