First non-registration prosecution

Win or lose an Antrim man will be setting legal history as the first person to be prosecuted for not registering to vote. There are an estimated 200,000 people not registered in Northern ireland

  • Greenflag

    FD ,

    Does this 200,000 include those under 18 ? or immigrants or is it just locals who can’t be bothered ? Seems like a large percentage of the electorate ? 20%? if it includes just NI citizens /subjects over 18 .

    Mr Wither’s defence rationale as to why he does’nt bother to vote should make interesting reading ‘

  • Eireannach Saolta

    Whats next are they going to start arresting people for spoiling their ballots. If someone doesn’t want to register its up to him/herself. This should be some sort of joke but it isn’t. What party/parties are behind this does anyone know?

  • heck

    good god

    have the authorities got nothing better to do.

    I am sure there are still some republicans left in northern ireland who want nothing to do with the state.

  • Turgon

    Fair Deal,
    As many (including of course yourself) will know many Brethern do not vote (I think Cooneyites may be the same). Do they register or do they object to that on the grounds of conscience as well?

  • Turgon

    FD,
    Badly phrased, I am not saying you are Brethern but you have alluded to their voting practice before.

  • The Third Policeman

    What moral problem have they got with voting Turgon?

  • Turgon

    TTP,
    I think they generally feel that God ordained the rulers and as such they (the Brethren) should not interfere. They also tend to believe in separation of believers from worldly things (such as voting and politics). Not all Brethren refuse to vote. I had a friend at Queen’s who is now a noted Brethren preacher who did feel voting was acceptable. Others I know feel it is something that they are required by their religious conscience not to do.

    I have included a link to an Exclusive Brethren web site where these doctrines are expounded in some detail. John Nelson Darby and his writings were instrumental in the setting up of the Brethren. Here is another history of the organisation, though they object to being a denomination and are simply groups of believers.

  • dewi

    I bet they would vote in a Border Poll Turgon. Seriously if there are 200,000 not registered it seems like someone is picking on this bloke.

  • Turgon

    dewi,
    There is almost no chance those opposed to voting would vote in a border poll. I have my criticisms of them on a number of things but on issues such as voting those Brethren who feel that way would be singularly lacking in hypocrisy.

  • Cahal

    Wow, the government have way too much control over our lives.

  • willis

    Can I once again congratulate the sub-editors at the Tele for their fearless quest for manipulation and distortion in the pursuit of readers.

    Headline

    First prosecution over alleged failure to vote.

    Text

    An Antrim man will appear in court next month as the first person in Northern Ireland to be prosecuted for allegedly not registering to vote.

    Good Luck boys and girls – a career on the Daily Express surely awaits.

  • joeCanuck

    It is awfully strange that it is illegal not to register but not illegal to not vote. Tax dollars/pounds put to great use at Westminster.

  • Rory

    This requirement to register on pain of penalty in Northern Ireland at least has been in place for quite some time to my knowledge and certainly predates the more rigourous application introduced by the Thatcher government in England and Wales to ensure compliance with the Poll Tax so that the poor could continue to subsidise the rich without hope of escape.

    In 1970, I think, – certainly a little time before the internment debacle of August 1971 – a census was undertaken and I arrived home at my parents’ house in County Down where I was then living to find a young woman there asking to collect the census form and then helping my parents to complete it.
    Knowing that (a) it was compulsory to register and (b) that I had the right to ask for a form that was separate from my parents on which to do so I forbade my father to enter my name on the household form and asked for a seperate form which when presented I then ostentatiously tore across and threw in the fire openly inviting prosecution. None followed and my parents did upbraid me, not for defying the law (which I think they secretly admired though fearful of the consequences for me)but for emabarrassing the young woman who was after all “only doing her job, the poor wee thing”, as indeed she was.

    The speedy development of events in the coming months meant that the authorities had more on their plate than the prosecution of register refuseniks and that was the least of matters on which I had given them cause for grievance.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Joe,

    Not strange at all. By registering, you’re ensuring that someone shady doesn’t register on your behalf. It’s a necessary evil to ensure the validity of the electoral role. This is not a new thing at all.

    On the other hand, I do not believe in compulsory voting. My attitude is that if you’re dumb enough not to take the opportunity to have a say in the future governance of the country, it’s your prerogative, but you lose the right to bitch about it.

  • joeCanuck

    I hadn’t thought of that, Comrade.
    Still not foolproof, of course. I went to vote back in the late 60s and discovered that my brother, whose name came directly after mine, had already voted. Thing is, he was living thousands of miles away in Zambia.

  • Rory

    As less and less of the electorate choose not to vote in the UK, understanding that, more especially since the total surrender of the Labour Party to the demands of capital, it really makes little difference, it becomes ever more important for the political establishment to overturn that apathy.

    The first reason is that they need to maintain the pretence that whichever lapdog party attains power does so by the will of the people. The second reason is that they become decidedly nervous when they firstly cannot contrive compliance in their sham democracy and then become increasingly paranoid when they have no reliable barometer whereby to guage the general will.

    Good Ol’ General Will I say. In the long run he’ll whup the ass o’ them fancy guys in the suits.

  • fair_deal

    Turgon

    “Do they register or do they object to that on the grounds of conscience as well?”

    I honestly don’t know.

  • Rory

    I think I may be able to throw some light on Turgon’s query as to whether “… they register or [whether] they object to that on the grounds of conscience as well?” When I asked her dear, Herself, who is from a Somerset brood of Peebs of some note in their community, she “reckoned” that they would do whatever helped them avoid taxes of any sort and would justify any hypocrisy that supported that principle. Fairly normal people then, in that regard at least, you might say.

  • Mark McGregor

    If you want to make it even more confusing the Exclusive Brethern (splitters) who don’t vote have been involved in trying to influence elections most notably in Australia

  • Turgon

    Mark,
    Yes I saw that (by googling Brethren and voting) and it did seem very odd to say the least. They seemed to be saying that they would not vote but wanted to influence how other people voted. I suppose they justified it by saying that they were praying for a certain thing in politics and so should also do something physical. That in spite of that they would not vote seems extremely bizarre.

  • Mark McGregor

    Turgon,

    That’s the first time you’ve called me Mark instead of Mr McGregor. Much appreciated and we have the Brethern to thank (though of course they would refuse the thanks seeing it all as part of god’s plan)

  • Reformed Presbyterians in Scotland and Ireland: 1833: Voting in political elections forbidden.

  • Turgon

    Touche! Mark

  • Bigger Picture

    “Whats next are they going to start arresting people for spoiling their ballots?”

    Now how would that happen when it is a secret ballot??

    Turgon

    “Do they register or do they object to that on the grounds of conscience as well? ”

    I always thought the Brethern considered themselves above the things of this world and therefore did not vote. Something to do with how the world is corrupt and you shouldn’t play any part in it. Bit short sighted I always thought but there you go I suppose.

    I think prosecuting for failure to register is a good thing, if a wee bit pointless that they don’t prosecute you for not voting. Surely that would be easier just mark off the register as people vote and the those who don’t get a fine posted out to them. Maybe a good money earner for Brown to help rescue the 10p tax saga

  • Even Bigger Pitcher

    It’s nobody’s damned business but mine whether I’m eligible to vote. I have no intention of placing my name on the electoral register. The state should butt out of my affairs.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Bigger Picture:

    I think prosecuting for failure to register is a good thing, if a wee bit pointless that they don’t prosecute you for not voting.

    It’s like I said, registration isn’t there to ensure that you vote. It’s to ensure that the electoral system holds water against people trying to vote on your behalf.

  • flora

    but surely if youre not registered noone can vote on your behalf, but if you are registered then youre easily personated

  • Rory

    Flora,

    For God’s sake don’t start stating the obvious. It confuses the hell out of the regulars on here.

  • Gregory

    It is a database thing, it is blairism, if you go into a PSNI station to ask directions, you get DNA’d, well, that might be an exaggeration, I’m darn sure that the credit agencies have a franchise on it.

    Democracy is an entitlement not to be placed in danger of voting. Lets be honest, voting, it is a form of crowd control. It stops chartists gathering at X-roads and asking for corn law reform, or whatever,

    I’m sure there is summat out there in desperate need of reform. Electoral registration for example.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    I think those people who feel themselves above the political process should be made vote even if only to spoil the ballot.

    They are happy to take all of the benefits the state offers education, health etc. etc. but to play no part in the process of arriving at the benefits.

    The penalty would be for anyone over 18 to lose all rights to benefits of any kind….that would ensure 100% registration very quickly, no need for courts.

  • Dublin voter

    I was canvassing in an election in Dublin a long while back. Walked up to a door where the woman was chatting over the wall to a neighbour. Gave her the leaflet and asked for her vote. She told me she didn’t vote. I asked why. She said “I’m a Jehovah’s witness. We don’t vote. We believe in God’s kingdom on earth.” (Not 100% sure if they were her exact words in the last sentence there). So I said fine, I won’t bother you with the leaflet. But she said no, she’d give the leaflet to her husband who wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness and who did vote.
    I came away thinking those Jehovah’s Witnesses are really pleasant people and not at all the fanatics people make out….

  • marty

    Jury service is picked from the electoral register isn’t it? That’s likely another reason behind the mandatory registration.

  • flora

    the uk info disc is freely available from torrent sites. isnt this what criminals use to steal identities?
    http://www.192.com/products/
    Surely if your electoral and telephone details arent entered in the uk info disc then the chances of someone stealing your identity is minimised.
    this electoral law is there for the benefit of credit agencies and banks

  • Turgon

    Dublin voter,
    I am inclined to agree. I know as a fundamentalist Prod I am in an odd position on this but I find JW’s in general very nice, kind and respectful. The young American Mormons are a bit less pleasant in my experience.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Flora,

    No, if you’re not registered then someone else can see you’re not registered; knowing that it’s highly unlikely that you’ll attempt to vote, they’ll register on your behalf and nick your vote.

    Personation carries with it the risk that the person whose vote you’re taking has actually already voted, or that you’ll otherwise be caught.

    It is a database thing, it is blairism, if you go into a PSNI station to ask directions, you get DNA’d, well, that might be an exaggeration, I’m darn sure that the credit agencies have a franchise on it.

    Gregory, I’m reasonably sure that compulsory voter registration has been in place long before databases or Blairism existed.

    What’s this I’m hearing about you being spoken to by the PSNI for harrassing the SDLP’s South Belfast constituency office ?

    Dublin voter:

    I came away thinking those Jehovah’s Witnesses are really pleasant people and not at all the fanatics people make out….

    Jehovah’s witnesses can get very nasty indeed; do some reading on Wikipedia. It’s a cult controlled by the Watchtower Organization whose word is deemed superior to that of the bible. The trouble comes if you have a family member or relative who needs blood transfusion, and you have to make the choice between your faith and their death.

  • Turgon

    Comarde,
    I agree re the potential nastiness of JW’s but the one’s you meet at the door are usually very pleasant Also few may know but they actually have to buy the books / tracts they give you.

    I am totally opposed to them, I regard them as a cult and they may produce some dreadful rulings eg on blood transfusion but individually they tend to be pretty pleasant.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    Agreed but then most of the cults tend to be like that. The Scientologists, for example, appear just to be a bunch of friendly folks who just want to help everybody. It’s only when you delve into the detail of what they’re about that the bad stuff comes out.

  • Turgon

    Comrade,
    Very fair. I am just thinking ruefully that sometimes the assorted cultists seem nicer and more friendly than fundamentalist Protestants do when we are trying to evangelise.

  • flora

    @ comrade
    if someone registers on my behalf then i wont get prosecuted for not registering because im actually registered even though i didnt register personally???
    lol…thats funny

  • Dublin voter

    Comrade and Turgon,

    I’d kind of agree with you both. I came away from that encounter thinking that woman was a really, nice friendly person (and also that Jehovah’s Witnesses were allowed to be married to non-believers which implies an openness on their behalf) but I’d still be wary of them and wouldn’t be at all surprised if the nasty stuff we read about them as a cult was true.
    Funny enough, around the same part of Dublin, where I grew up, a number of Brethren families have moved in, in the last few years. I have a bit of a fascination with the Brethren, having read Told in Gath, a memoir of growing up in a Brethren family in Northern Ireland in the forties and fifties. Author, anyone?
    I particularly recall the author saying that the Brethren’s take on other faiths could be likened to a dartboard – with the Brethren as the bullseye, Baptists as the 25 and so on (he listed various Protestant denominations). I think the CoI just made it on the outer rim but he said RCs and Jehovah’s Witnesses were off the board completely!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Flora, it could work out that way 🙂

  • Gregory

    “Gregory, I’m reasonably sure that compulsory voter registration has been in place long before databases or Blairism existed.”

    Crikey, wickedness pre-dated Blair? Who would have thought. This is a great blog for learning stuff. I’ve had Blair pegged as the danger to humanity number one for a while.

    ‘The lunatic fringe of this alliance of fundamentalist Christians and extreme feminists even try to portray the lap-dancing industry as akin to the slave trade. One particular God-botherer from the Catholic far-Right in correspondence with the work permits agency has even threatened Tony Blair and blamed the Prime Minister personally for allowing Ireland’s shores to be polluted with this filth.’

    Ireland’s shores polluted with filth, ya see, is that dangerous or what?

    So, really, who would have been that wicked? Voter registration databases. I know Roman Emperors kept list of taxpayers and stuff.

    I was asked to register to vote and I asked “For who?” I only vote for my mates.

    G.

  • Gregory

    “It’s only when you delve into the detail of what they’re about that the bad stuff comes out.”

    Try saying that and handing out leaflets in King William Street on a Friday night.

    The city rozzers would whisk you away for a caution, save the cheek for the Met.

    G.

  • Danny O’Connor

    I personally believe that people should be encouraged to register and to vote,in some areas the amount of spoiled votes would show how disaffected many people are by what passes for politics in this part of the world.
    It may well be, that there is some more sinister reason,a tap tax,for water,for example.Another could be to keep people from claiming benefits if they are living with someone who is working eg tax credits.
    We live in a big brother world and Government are becoming more controlling using the war on terror as an excuse.

  • Alan

    I find the notion of taking people to court for not registering a flawed and failure driven policy.

    I do not see why anyone should be forced to register. If they want to risk their vote being stolen, then that is their look out. If they want to find it harder to get credit , then that is their look out. Only the naive do not see the importance and the benefit of registering and voting.

    I’m sure, if he was up front about this, Mr Bain’s response would be that he has been set targets on registration to meet and he has decided that pillorying an individual is the best way of chivvying up a few thousand more registrations.

  • willowfield

    Who are the Brethren (or “Brethern” as several people have written!) referred to here?

    Plymouth Brethren?

  • The Anachrist

    Alan

    NOBODY should be forced to register. Nor should a person be forced to buy a passport for example. What good is a passport to me? Can I eat it? No. Do I want one? No. But governments want me to have one. So they sell one to me … then tell me it remains THEIR property. What a great scam that is! Wake up, people, smell the funny coffee.

  • Reader

    Alan: If they want to risk their vote being stolen, then that is their look out.
    Surely it depends on who steals their vote? It won’t be the goodies, anyway.
    So – how can I defend the value of my vote against people who would happily steal many votes?

  • Dublin voter

    “Who are the Brethren (or “Brethern” as several people have written!) referred to here?

    Plymouth Brethren?”

    Yes, Willowfield. But, again from that book I read, the author’s father says to him as a child, something along the lines of: “People call us Plymouth Brethren, but we are just Brethren. Am I from Plymouth?”
    I’m guessing the Plymouth bit comes from the fact that the founders of this sect were from Plymouth in England.

  • The Anachrist

    Aleister Crowley was a member of the Plymouth Brethren. That probably says it all.