Electoral register numbers fall…

The numbers of people registered to vote in elections has dropped by 2.6%. Perhaps this is what was behind John Spellar’s announcement yesterday.

  • Ziznivy

    It’s quite easy to fall between two stools with the electoral register if you’re moving house or a student returning from the mainland.

  • Davros

    How come Ziz ? one phone call or a trip to an office and it’s sorted.Let’s ignore the hype. If you WANT to vote honestly, it’s more easy than getting a tax disc for a car.

  • George

    Davros,
    surely the aim is to involve as many as possible in the democratic process.

    If the current legislation is leading to a reduction the numbers bothering to ensure they are entitled to vote then this is as bad for democracy as voter fraud.

    It’s a good move.

  • Ziznivy

    I do know quite a number of people who weren’t allowed to go on the list the last time because they’d returned to the country or applied after the deadline. I accept that if you really want to vote you will make the effort, but it does put an extra disincentive in the way of the apathetic.

    I did however witness someone at the European election attempt to “banter” their way to a vote at the Stranmillis Polling Station! He did seem quite surprised that you needed to be on the register. Students today eh? 😀

  • Davros

    George – the aim is to ensure that those entitled to vote and WISHING TO vote can vote safe in the knowledge that their democratic wishes are not being corrupted by illegal votes being cast. There is no impediment to the public registering. Free ID is provided. For heavens sake, a form is delivered to every house and collected . What more do people want ? Free Taxis ?
    Anybody with a problem can contact the electoral offices …and God knows there are enough political offices that will assist. I ran into problems with the Aged parent being hospitalised … was she disenfranchised ? Nope, local SDLP offices (before SF opened an office locally ) and the electoral office sorted out a proxy vote for her at very short notice.

  • Davros

    it does put an extra disincentive in the way of the apathetic

    if they are that apathetic, why worry ?

  • George

    Davros,
    a reduced electorate reduces the legitimacy of the vote.
    If legislation is in place, which reduces the numbers voting, then this is bad for democracy in the long term, even if that something merely forces people to make an effort to vote.

    Anyway, how many fraudulent votes do you believe this new system has prevented and how many will the new change allow in? Less than a hundred I’d say.

    How many people have been disenfranchised by this system? I believe it’s in the hundred thousand plus range, with another 15,000 this year.

    Canon, fly?

  • Davros

    George – which is more credible :

    1 million people registered , 400,000 legit votes cast and 50,000 non-legit votes cast

    800,000 people registered and 400,000 legit votes cast.

    People who want to vote will still vote.

  • George

    Davros,
    are you telling me that this new change will mean that there will be 50,000 illegal votes in the next election?
    Or are you saying there were 50,000 illegal votes?

    Evidence for this huge number?

  • Davros

    I’m making 3 points that you are dodging 🙂

    1)Giving votes to those too apathetic to ensure their vote does not guarantee that they will be arsed bothering to vote on the day.

    2)There is a far greater risk to the democratic process from improper voting ( Ukraine ring any bells ?) than from disenfranchising those too apathetic, lazy or stupid to fill in a form that is delivered to their home and collected from their home …

    3) you haven’t PROVED that the legislation reduces the numbers who actually DO vote properly.

  • Ziznivy

    Given the political realities of Northern Ireland though apathy spreads among a vast range of people, especially amongst the young and the middle classes. I don’t think we should be writing off these sections of society in terms of their contribution. Ideally I’d like to see many more people voting who aren’t “hyper politically aware”, as often that would produce a more moderate result.

  • willowfield

    I agree with Ziznivy.

    In fact, voting should be compulsory.

  • George

    Davros,

    1) Disenfranchising the apathetic, stupid and lazy is undemocratic and should be fought by all democrats.

    2)What level of improper voting will the new change cause? I believe virtually none.
    More importantly, what level of voter fraud was in place in 1997, 1998 to justify taking over one (two?) hundred thousand off the register?
    I would say less than 100 votes. Open to correction.

    3) What has been proven is that the numbers entitled to vote has been reduced by this legislation. Whether they vote or not is their democratic decision. To deny them the right to vote on the grounds of apathy or whatever is undemocratic and dangerous.
    I’m against removing people from the democratic process.

  • Davros

    George … they are not being removed… they are removing themselves. Huge difference.

  • George

    Davros,
    you’re incorrect: they are being removed from the register by the authorities.
    If they went up and asked to be removed then they would be removing themselves. This is not the case.

  • willowfield

    George

    There were some districts with 130% registration. That needed to be tackled.

  • Alan

    *For heavens sake, a form is delivered to every house and collected .*

    Actually, not everywhere. In my own ward the forms were delivered, but had to be returned by post as the Electoral Office had unavoidable staffing problems. I queried this and discovered that the collection is a non-mandatory element of the registration process.

    Otherwise, there is a real problem for people who cannot fill out their form as a result of a disability, and I am aware of examples of people with a disability being challenged and refused the vote at the polling station.

  • willowfield

    Is posting a letter a difficult task for many people?

  • George

    Willowfield,
    “There were some districts with 130% registration. That needed to be tackled.”

    Was this down to voter fraud or bureaucratic incompetence? What level of voter fraud was there in 1997 and 1998? I’d say less than a hundred. To achieve this one or two hundred thousand have been disenfranchised. Surely there’s a better way.

    Why can’t someone just arrive on voting day with acceptable ID and vote. What’s with the annual cull of the register?

    Posting a letter is a huge ask for the apathetic amongst us. This shouldn’t be a reason for automatic disenfranchisement.

  • peteb

    You being apathetic, George, doesn’t equate to being denied a vote.

    Time for a recognition of the responsibilities that accompany rights.

  • George

    Peteb,
    surely there is a better method for voter registration which doesn’t punish the apathetic, lazy etc. amongst us. Democracy is for all.

    I strolled into my local council office with ID and am now registered until I’m dead or decide otherwise. When I vote I bring ID. Why the annual renewal? This to me is complete overkill for a simple process.

    This system leads to more and more people being deregistered, another 10,000 odd in the last 12 months.
    It is ridiculous to place the blame on these people rather than on a ludicrous system that has the side effect of causing over a hundred thousand NI citizens to lose their entitlement to vote.

    Showing common sense is sometimes more intelligent than shouting about responsibility.

  • peteb

    No-one’s shouting, George, it’s just a gentle reminder that the bleating about being denied the right to vote doesn’t correspond to the reality.

    The yearly registration has proven to be flawed, and is being addressed.. but the problem of people not re-registering will remain because the real issue is not the legislation.. it’s the apathy.

  • Davros

    Good post pete.

    Alan : Otherwise, there is a real problem for people who cannot fill out their form as a result of a disability

    All they have to do is contact their local electoral office. Alternatively, NI is covered with UUP, DUP, SDLP,SF and APNI offices that will gladly help. I know the SDLP went to some trouble to help me in respect of my disabled mother.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Non registration is a Western European problem that is causing concern to many governments. In their own country various English MP’s have noted the varieties of people who fail to register. This has led to the relaxation of rules around voting, including text voting etc.

    The ham fisted approach relating to registration here was encouraged by those who became convinced that the process would damage SF. Unfortunately because of the near professionalism of the SF party, the effect on that party has been negligible.

    Spellar et al have admitted making a balls of things. The almost sheepish compliance of the political parties in accepting the changes by Sppellar is quite telling.

  • peteb

    Actually Pat it’s been the failure to vote that has led to the introduction of alternative methods of voting being employed.. and abused.

  • George

    Peteb,
    the reality is that there was a 2.6% drop in the register in the last year, which is actually around 27,000 people.

    These people are no longer entitled to vote so it is a denial. Why on earth should a supposed democracy have a system in place that year on year appears to be disenfranchising tens of thousands of people? Legislation has to take into account that a lot of people are apathetic.

    What is wrong with a new system? Why defend the current one which is clearly not helping the democratic process?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    that should read, the call to relax rules.

  • peteb

    You should re-read my oprignal response, George, you’ll forgive me but I’d rather not repeat post.

  • Keith M

    George “Disenfranchising the apathetic, stupid and lazy is undemocratic and should be fought by all democrats.

    From dictionary.com : Democratic : “representing or appealing to or adapted for the benefit of the people at large”.

    Firstly nobody is disenfranchanchising people. People who were entitled to vote in the past are still entitled to vote. What is clearly undemocratic is allowing people who are not entitled to vote to remain on the register and therefore to vote.

    Given the amount of controversy there was in the past, and the closeness of election results in many N.I. constituencies it is not only desirable but essential that the results are not open to dispute. The best way to ensure this is to have a clean electoral register. The only people who would be against this would be people who wanted to cheat.

  • George

    Keithm,
    it is not the case that those being removed from the register are people who wanted to “cheat”.

    I say for the third time that there were probably less than 100 fraudulent votes in the recent NI elections so why have some barmy legislation that reduces the number of people entitled to vote year by year, 27,000 citizens in the past year.

    Removing over one hundred thousand citizens (not cheats) from the register is not “representing the people at large”. It is disenfranchising a large number of people. It is anti-democratic.

    How can anyone see such a development as good for democracy or even defend it?

  • Davros

    I say for the third time that there were probably less than 100 fraudulent votes in the recent NI elections

    Now that’s shooting yourself in the foot George! The last set of elections were held under the “new” system 🙂

  • Keith M

    George I would agree that the recent elections probably had 100 fraudulent or less, and the reason….the new tighter electoral register.

    “Removing over one hundred thousand citizens (not cheats) from the register is not “representing the people at large”. It is disenfranchising a large number of people. It is anti-democratic.”

    I could be wrong here but are people not given a period of grace to add re-add their names to the register? If I’m right then talk of disenfranchising people is obviously nonsense. You have a point if there is no period of grace.

    The way it works in this country is that people can challenge a name on the register. A letter is then sent to the person telling them that unless they reply with x days (I think it’s 30) their name will be remover from the register. I think this is actually a fair system, but then election results in this country were never disputed in the way that those in N.I. were.

  • George

    Keithm,
    the 1997 and 1998 elections also probably had only around a 100 fraudulent votes before this system.

    my main problem is that there are now 27,000 less on the register than last year, probably made up of people who forgot or weren’t motivated enough to go through the motions again this year.

    There is something wrong with a voting system that removes 2.6.% from the register on an annual basis. Their only crime? Apathy.

    The way it works in this country is that you walk into the council office, register and that’s it you’re on for life. No yearly renewals. No sneaky methods of disenfranchisement. Voting is a right and retaining the right shouldn’t be a chore.

    It’s good the yearly renewal is going now but what I’m really surprised about, and I have to agree with Pat McLarnon here, is that no party apart from SF has kicked up a fuss about this crazy situation.

    That is a disgrace.

  • Davros

    no party apart from SF has kicked up a fuss about this crazy situation.

    no surprises as SF are the party most accused of electoral fraud – accusations made on both sides of the border.

    The way it works in this country is that you walk into the council office, register and that’s it you’re on for life.

    and unless told to the contrary, after life has ended ? Are all death certificates forwarded to your electoral body to ensure that dead voters are removed ? What’s to stop people walking into another council office when they move house and register , thereby having 2 votes ?

  • willowfield

    George

    “There were some districts with 130% registration. That needed to be tackled.”

    Was this down to voter fraud or bureaucratic incompetence?

    Voter fraud, I’d imagine. How could it be bureaucratic incompetence?

    What level of voter fraud was there in 1997 and 1998?

    No idea.

    I’d say less than a hundred.

    On what basis?

    Why can’t someone just arrive on voting day with acceptable ID and vote. What’s with the annual cull of the register?

    It was to prevent multiple registrations – registering at more than one address, applying for a postal vote for one address and turning up in person at the other. A big Provo fraud.

    the reality is that there was a 2.6% drop in the register in the last year, which is actually around 27,000 people. These people are no longer entitled to vote so it is a denial.

    They’ve denied themselves. People have to take responsibility.

    it is not the case that those being removed from the register are people who wanted to “cheat”.

    It’s not so much a case of people being removed from the register as people declining to add themselves to the register.

    But among those no longer on the register will be the fraudulent registrations. That is good. I accept it is bad that others won’t register. That’s why I favour a relaxation, but the measures requiring national insurance numbers and signatures should stay.

    To overcome apathy, if that is your main concern, the best thing to do is to make registration and voting compulsory.

  • willowfield

    George

    “There were some districts with 130% registration. That needed to be tackled.”

    Was this down to voter fraud or bureaucratic incompetence?

    Voter fraud, I’d imagine. How could it be bureaucratic incompetence?

    What level of voter fraud was there in 1997 and 1998?

    No idea.

    I’d say less than a hundred.

    On what basis?

    Why can’t someone just arrive on voting day with acceptable ID and vote. What’s with the annual cull of the register?

    It was to prevent multiple registrations – registering at more than one address, applying for a postal vote for one address and turning up in person at the other. A big Provo fraud.

    the reality is that there was a 2.6% drop in the register in the last year, which is actually around 27,000 people. These people are no longer entitled to vote so it is a denial.

    They’ve denied themselves. People have to take responsibility.

    it is not the case that those being removed from the register are people who wanted to “cheat”.

    It’s not so much a case of people being removed from the register as people declining to add themselves to the register.

    But among those no longer on the register will be the fraudulent registrations. That is good. I accept it is bad that others won’t register. That’s why I favour a relaxation, but the measures requiring national insurance numbers and signatures should stay.

    To overcome apathy, if that is your main concern, the best thing to do is to make registration and voting compulsory.

  • Keith M

    “The way it works in this country is that you walk into the council office, register and that’s it you’re on for life.”

    And that in my opinion is a very very sloppy system. There are tens of thousands of people on the electoral register that that have no place on it. There is no process for removing those that have died, emigrated or moved house and it is well known that in certain areas several corpses have risen from the grave on election day!

    It isn’t an issue here because no party has ever been charged with systematic vote fraud in the way that SF/IRA was in NI.

    People who have not bothered to register in Northern Ireland obviously have no inyterest in voting. This is NOT disenfranchisement as all these people have to do is re-register. There is no longterm barrier to them voting.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    George, don’t be silly. You can’t possibly know the number of fraudulent votes cast – how could you ? You’re careful to qualify your pronouncement of 100-odd fake votes with “probably” although I have to wonder where you got those numbers from.

    The problem is that there was a widespread suspicion of voter personation and there were several instances where evidence of serious electoral abuse became known, for example the registration of an absurdly large number of people at a house, or postal vote abuse where the electoral office would get several thousand applications on the very last day of registration. The true scale of it can’t be known, but the fact that it was there was undermining confidence in the electoral process.

    The form isn’t hard to fill in, and it takes about five minutes. People regularly need to fill in more complex forms annually, such as for rates, car insurance/car tax, etc. I can’t take seriously the argument that regular re-registration acts to disenfranchise.

  • George

    Roger W. Christ,
    I’m just guessing that it’s not a big problem at the moment and came up with 100. Whatever the figure it’s certainly not worth losing 27,000 people a year from the register. That was my basic point.

    Surely there’s a better method which doesn’t result in the register shrinking so alarmingly.

  • Davros

    I’m just guessing that it’s not a big problem at the moment

    that’s because of the system which strangely enough SF oppose 🙂

  • George

    Davros,
    do you believe this annual registering is still needed?

    Also, do you have evidence of SF vote fraud in the elections preceding this system or are you just making wild accusations 🙂

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    “no surprises as SF are the party most accused of electoral fraud – accusations made on both sides of the border.”

    No surprises there, but lets look at the evidence. What party is at the centre of illegal practice at Omagh Registration Office? What party printed its’ own electoral registration forms? What party does Jim Speers belong to, a person with a conviction for fraudulent postal vote applications. Guess what not SF.

    As usual repeat the lies about the Shinners ad nauseum, but the facts tell a different story.

  • Davros

    do you believe this annual registering is still needed?

    Yes

    do you have evidence of SF vote fraud in the elections preceding this system or are you just making wild accusations 🙂

    Willie Carlin : Sunday Times 2000 :
    Willie Carlin, a key Sinn Fein worker from 1982 to 1985, says a decisive 2,700 votes were cast fraudulently for the Northern Ireland education minister by party supporters in the 1982 Stormont assembly elections. Later, a party was organised for the election workers and Carlin alleges that a plaque was presented to the person who had voted the most times. The winner, a woman, had cast 67 ballots, just two ahead of the runner-up, he said.

    I’m also taking the word of your own Government George 🙂

    OK, not conclusive, but why take chances ? As you admitted, the system works. It’s bloody difficult to cheat.

  • Davros

    Parties agree to combat election personation by Sinn Fein

    Sunday March 31st 2002
    THE Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, has agreed a strategy with the Fine Gael leader to “prevent any breaches in the integrity of the voting system” in the general election.
    In a letter to Mr Noonan last week, Mr Ahern said: “I do agree that all the main political parties and indeed all those interested in the democratic process co-operate in every way possible.” The Taoiseach’s comments followed a letter to him from Mr Nooan, in which the Fine Gael leader warned that Sinn Fein may be planning personation, where voters pass themselves off as somebody else to use their vote, in the May election.
    Mr Noonan said: “As you are aware, there were reports of widespread personation during the parliamentary elections in Northern Ireland last year. I am concerned that Sinn Fein may be planning similar activity during the forthcoming election here.”
    Mr Ahern said he was happy that his party should co-operate in every way to provide personnel to act as personation agents at polling stations in constituencies that may be at risk.
    He copied his letter to Fianna Fail’s party secretary Martin Macken with the instruction to give the fullest co-operation.
    The constituencies regarded by the main parties as most at risk are Dublin West, Dublin Central, Dublin North West, Dublin South Central, Kerry North, Louth and Meath.
    In his letter, Mr Noonan said that since the rules governing polling stations were changed some years ago, the practice of political parties providing personation agents within polling stations had declined and in many cases, no such agents were present during voting.
    “In order to prevent what occurred in Northern Ireland, I am proposing that the largest political parties, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Labour Party, co-operate in the provision of personnel to act as personation agents in polling stations in those constituencies where Sinn Fein are expected to mount a strong campaign.”
    Sinn Fein is widely accused of personation. A former Sinn Fein election worker, Willie Carlin, has claimed that Martin McGuinness got into politics, thanks to systematic vote-stealing by republicans.
    Mr Carlin, a key Sinn Fein worker from 1982 to 1985, says a decisive 2,700 votes were cast fraudulently for the present Northern Ireland education minister by party supporters in the 1982 Stormont assembly elections.
    Later, a party was organised for the election workers and Mr Carlin alleges that a plaque was presented to the person who had voted the most times. The winner, a woman, had cast 67 ballots, just two ahead of the runner-up, he said.
    Mr Carlin’s revelations were broadcast in the BBC Spotlight current affairs programme.
    It is widely accepted that long-term electoral abuse has taken place in Northern Ireland.
    To help counteract that occurring here, Environment Minister Noel Dempsey has revised the rules for the supplementary voters register. This was put through the Dail during the last days before the Easter recess.
    To get on the supplementary list, it will be necessary not only to make a formal written application, but to have a certificate of identity signed and stamped in a Garda station.
    Where a person cannot get to a Garda station, a written explanation has to accompany a request to a local council for inclusion on the supplementary list.
    JODY CORCORAN, POLITICAL EDITOR
    © Irish Independent

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    George, it’s not useful at all to start into a denial based on a number you just invented. At least you admitted though, which a lot of people wouldn’t bother doing.

    Also, no evidence exists of voter fraud in previous elections, because it is basically impossible to prove without actually catching people in the act of duplicating false identification. What evidence could exist ? If a person is on the register to vote and someone else establishes that they are unlikely to use that vote and illegally votes on their behalf, how can you prove that this took place ? You can’t. The only time you notice it is when someone shows up at the polling station and they find they’ve already voted. By the time you do that, the personating voter is long gone. There are other ways you can guess if personation is taking place, most of the political parties do the rounds on election day making sure people are voting, and at the end of the day they can compare the turnout at the boxes with the “feel” of things they got. Granted it’s not scientific and hardly hard proof, but you can get a good idea when people are voting against their will.

    Pat, either SF or people who were strongly motivated to support them (the Republican Party in the US made that distinction over the recent voter registration scandals in that country) were involved in significant electoral abuse. This involved several stunts, such as flooding the electoral office with tens of thousands of postal vote applications shortly before the registration deadline (on one occasion the electoral office worked by phoning up the applicants directly one by one – most of them turned out to be fake), registering 18 people to a flat on the New Lodge is another example I can think of – I remember that in 1997 the SDLP got 109 votes removed from the register after providing evidence that they were false (can you guess how many the SDLP didn’t spot?). Who knows how many other instances of abuse occurred unnoticed ?

    The argument is a little like the issue of collusion. The lack of anything other than circumstantial evidence does not mean that police collusion did not occur, and it does not mean that anybody has the right to resist reasonable efforts to do something about it. As I’m sure you agree it is essential that the people at large can be assured that this type of thing cannot happen. This applies to electoral registration as well.

    Either way, the electoral changes brought in a few years ago have comprehensively tightened up the system in a way that prevents further accusations of fraud, and from my point of view at least the personation matter is a closed issue. I don’t particularly mind that the re-registration requirements are being eased (the photographic ID requirements are what are important), but I do mind when people attempt to revise history over electoral abuse. There were several serious loopholes in the system, the perception existed (justified or not) that they were being abused, and it was right to plug them.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Davros, I actually have a hard time believing Carlin’s story. SF would never be so stupid to organize personation in such an open fashion. They’re much cleverer than that.

  • Davros

    Roger, this was early 80’s … SF thought they could do what they liked – they still, to a great extent do have this arrogance – like when they thought they would get away with denying that one of their chaps had been arrested in Colombia ;)Like when Gerry took the fifth over Colombia, Like when Martin M defied Saville- was he jailed ? Was he ‘eck as like.

  • Davros

    Anyhow, Thanks Roger,YF, George and Pat for an interesting exchange. I’m off to finish Patrick McCabe’s “The Butcher Boy”.

  • willowfield

    Pat

    Re. your 10.58 – you’re definitely not a supporter, sure you’re not?

  • George

    Willowfield,
    I would go with compulsory voting. The more who vote the better.

    Keithm and Davros,
    there is a method for removing dead people. The neighbour or relative coming to vote says the guy in number seven passed away and the polling clerk puts “RIP” beside their name.

    The others who do this are the personating agents for the political parties who are present at every polling station and can ask the presiding officer to challenge voters. They point out to the clerk who has passed away in their area and the “RIP” is put beside the name and the register is put in the ballot box with the votes for updating. Are there no personating agents in NI?

    I re-registered in Cork this year and a letter was automatically sent to my old Dublin address saying I was being removed from that register. It works guys. Modern technology.

  • willowfield

    There is a method for removing dead people. The neighbour or relative coming to vote says the guy in number seven passed away and the polling clerk puts “RIP” beside their name.

    So a Provo knows an SDLP supporter lives in no. 7. He goes into the polling station and says Joe Bloggs from no. 7 had passed away. The clerk puts “RIP” beside his name. Then Joe from no. 7 comes into vote and he is not allowed.

    That’s a great system, George! Wise up!

  • George

    Willowfield,
    the SDLP personating agent at the table says “he’s not dead”. A Garda is always present so he/she is called and the Provo is arrested for voter fraud.

    Simple system. Do they not have personating agents in NI?

  • George

    Also Willowfield,
    Joe would still be on the register even if there was no personating officer present.
    All that happens is RIP is put beside his name. If Joe turns up then obviously he can vote if he has ID.
    If he doesn’t vote and is still alive, then he won’t have a death cert so they won’t remove him from the register.

    As I said technology. Simple and it works.
    I feel you should wise up and keep it simple.

  • willowfield

    Never heard of “personating agents”. I guess we don’t need them because we have abolished personation.

    Why not just require photo ID, and then you don’t need “personation agents”.

    What happens to smaller parties who don’t have enough “personation agents” to cover all polling stations?

    In your scenario, what happens if the person really is dead, and the SDLP “personating agent” is lying?

  • George

    Then the SF, DUP or UUP personating agent will say he’s lying (there is generally one from each main party) and the Garda is called etc.

    As for smaller parties, they generally pool their resources so Labour and the Greens would maybe split their personating agents. The presiding officer or polling clerk can also challenge a voter if in doubt.

    The personating agents are on top of the ID, which you have to show if asked.
    It helps as well if you have some old age pensioner who has forgotten their ID and wants to vote.

    Instead of sending them home, the personating agents can vouch for them (both parties) and the presiding officer can decide to allow them to vote anyway. He/she can make them swear an oath that they are who they say they are.

    The object is to help people to vote.

    I accept things were different in NI where personation was more of a problem but this system works for us and gives the process a more human feel.

  • willowfield

    Then the SF, DUP or UUP personating agent will say he’s lying (there is generally one from each main party) and the Garda is called etc.

    How would they know he was lying?

    (PS. The Garda doesn’t operate in NI.)

    As for smaller parties, they generally pool their resources so Labour and the Greens would maybe split their personating agents. The presiding officer or polling clerk can also challenge a voter if in doubt.

    Wouldn’t it be easier and safer just to require photo ID?

    Instead of sending them home, the personating agents can vouch for them (both parties) and the presiding officer can decide to allow them to vote anyway. He/she can make them swear an oath that they are who they say they are.

    What if the “personating agents” are lying or mistaken and the person is lying?

  • George

    Willowfield,
    if the representatives of all the political parties are in cahoots with each other and lying in unison to perpetrate massive electoral fraud, obviously we’d have to put in a new system.

    As it is they aren’t so your questions are a bit too hypothetical. Your whatifery is a bit out of place in this instance.

    If there is a doubt the person has to produce ID.
    Maybe everyone up north screams lier every ten minutes but south of the border this system works very well.

    Has the North returned to a simple once registered, show ID and you can vote system or do they have to re-register at any stage?

    PS: You would have been more correct to say the DUP and UUP don’t run in the Irish Republic.

  • willowfield

    Since when did the SDLP run in the Irish Republic?

  • George

    Oops, forgot them. Add them to the list.

  • James

    My personal take on annual voter registration is that it is nuts.

    You don’t have to take the full driver’s examination yearly, do you?

    From several recent and rather intense experiences I can unequivocally state that you guys are one hellofa lot more dangerous on the roads than you ever will be with the ballot box.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Willie Carlin, well done Davros. I remeber seeing the Spotlight programme involved and I have to say the editors at the BBC cant do their basic maths. Willie was alleging that people were personating dozens of votes with the top personator doing well over a hundred odd votes.
    When you multiplied the number of people with the average votes personnated it tallied to more than the SF vote. Enough of the fantasy stuff from Army agents any comment on Omagh and Jim Speers.

  • Davros

    ou don’t have to take the full driver’s examination yearly, do you?

    Moving house doesn’t change you ability to drive James. In the 70’s I had 2 votes. I had moved house.
    I only used the vote to which I was entitled, but that’s the point of the voter registration.

  • George

    Davros,
    I only have to register once and am automatically removed from the old register. There are such things as computers these days.

    Why can’t they do something like this.

    You can only register with certain ID: passport, driver’s licence, birth cert etc.

    When you register, the computer will see if this name and ID is already registered and remove the obsolete one.

    Simple and the millions saved could be put into Irish language and Ulster Scots development 🙂

  • Davros

    Pat, you are happy enough to accept what army agents say when it suits you ….

    George – Computers are terrifyingly expensive – and Civil liberties issues – I would happily accept registration via DNA sample. To give an explanation – we forget that Governemnts pay through the nose to use Microsoft. The NHS in Scotland ( I don’t know about the rest of UK ) still uses Windows 98 as it cannot afford to even upgrade to Windows Me.

  • Davros

    Technology:

    Irish news page 2 has a picture of a pupil using a fingertip recognition registration system instead of the traditional roll call … What do sluggers think of this as a way round personation ?

  • George

    Davros,
    how much does it cost to post out and process over 1 million forms a year? That’s expensive and we all know how desperately the public sector up North needs to pare back things.

    Actually as we’re using biometric Irish passports in the near future and nobody seems to care about it enough to block it, why not if the costs are low. The will be as well if every airport in the US has biometric reading systems.

  • Davros

    George: they don’t post them out. They are delivered and collected.

    What price fair elections ? Look at the Ukraine.

  • George

    What price delivery and collection of a million forms then Davros as opposed to post. Not cheap you know.

    As for fair elections, removing 2.6% of the electorate a year is a bad system which in the long run will undermine the system.

    There must be a better system.

  • willowfield

    how much does it cost to post out and process over 1 million forms a year? That’s expensive and we all know how desperately the public sector up North needs to pare back things.

    Funny how on this thread, George is terribly concerned with the cost of printing electoral forms, but on another he demands that 10m euro be spent on translating EC decisions into Gaelic!