47.4% drop in postal/proxy votes issued

The BBC report notes the headline figure but, below the fold, the breakdown by constituency shows massive variations in the reduction in postal and proxy votes issued this year compared to 2005. As the Electoral Office Northern Ireland statement says [pdf file]

Almost 1.17 million people will be able to vote at the general election the Electoral Office has announced.
Figures published today by the Office also show that the number of people applying for a postal or proxy vote has halved largely because of stringent measures put in place to detect fraudulent applications.

 From the NI Electoral Office [pdf file]

POSTAL & PROXY VOTES ISSUED 2005 & 2010
Postal & Proxy Votes Issued 2005 Postal & Proxy Votes Issued 2010 

Change 

% +/- 

BELFAST EAST 

655 

642 

-13 

-2.0 

BELFAST NORTH 

755 

577 

-178 

-23.6 

BELFAST SOUTH 

794 

540 

-254 

-32.0 

BELFAST WEST 

1059 

608 

-451 

-42.6 

EAST ANTRIM 

711 

410 

-301 

-42.3 

EAST LONDONDERRY 

1840 

990 

-850 

-46.2 

FERMANAGH AND SOUTH TYRONE 

5611 

3135 

-2476 

-44.1 

FOYLE 

3069 

946 

-2123 

-69.2 

LAGAN VALLEY 

1205 

838 

-367 

-30.5 

MID ULSTER 

3636 

1873 

-1763 

-48.5 

NEWRY AND ARMAGH 

2652 

1021 

-1631 

-61.5 

NORTH ANTRIM 

1714 

795 

-919 

-53.6 

NORTH DOWN 

818 

557 

-261 

-31.9 

SOUTH ANTRIM 

825 

475 

-350 

-42.4 

SOUTH DOWN 

2543 

1322 

-1221 

-48.0 

STRANGFORD 

964 

675 

-289 

-30.0 

UPPER BANN 

1317 

885 

-432 

-32.8 

WEST TYRONE 

4209 

1782 

-2427 

-57.7 

TOTAL 

34377 

18071 

-16306 

-47.4 

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  • slug

    Strange – is there a reason for this?

  • Drumlin Rock

    yes the Electoral office have over reacted and denied thousands their votes because they didnt tick a box right! Its not entirely their fault, Gordons dithering and refusal to actually say the election was on the 6th of May left a very small window for to submit the forms, and therefore any error could not be checked and resubmitted, have had several calls already today.

  • Oracle

    Slug if you look at the figure they mainly affect Nationalist seats, the S/F people who used to organise postal/proxy votes have (acording to media reports and relavant websites) all left S/F recently.

    Hmmmm

  • slug

    It seems to have impacted a LOT on Foyle, FST, West Tyr, and South Down – in ABSOLUTE (as well as %) terms.

    This could make a difference. Does anyone know which party tends to have more postal votes?

  • Framer

    Notice the constituencies with the huge drops which are sufficient to sway the result and they aren’t significantly unionist.

    FST has lost most – 2476 – which should give Rodney Connor a fillip on polling day.

    The electoral office statistic that is not given is the number rejected this year. We are just told the reduced numbers issued.

    Don’t know why it was easier to spot obvious fraudsters this time but there must be glum faces in certain parties.

  • slug

    It could harm or hurt Connor depending on who the people are who haven’t registered. But yes this is thousands of votes.

  • slug

    But do you know that or are you guessing?

  • sdelaneys

    The Newry Democrat and the Newry Reporter carry a story this week about a 66 year old man from Newtownhamilton and a 33 year old woman from Cullyhanna charged with 13 counts of fraudulent applications for postal votes. he is charged with 10 offences between 2003 and 2009 and she with 3 offences in 2009. When they were arrested last year there were howls of ‘political policing’ from Sinn Féin who have been mute concerning the charges.
    Tip of the iceberg, I’d say.

  • sdelaneys

    The Newry Democrat and the Newry Reporter carry a story this week about a 66 year old man from Newtownhamilton and a 33 year old woman from Cullyhanna charged with 13 counts of fraudulent applications for postal votes. he is charged with 10 offences between 2003 and 2009 and she with 3 offences in 2009. When they were arrested last year there were howls of ‘political policing’ from Sinn Féin who have been mute concerning the charges.
    Tip of the iceberg, I’d say.

  • Ulick

    Care to provide some evidence of these “media reports and relevant websites”?

  • Ulick

    Indeed, but to my recollection the DUP via former Coleraine mayor Dessie Stewart are the only Party to get caught at it?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/5385132.stm

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Nearly a quarter of total in F&ST – why so high?

  • DC

    Get with it Slug, people are disenfranchised and completely disillusioned.

    The only way round this is coming in from complete left field and applying a new moral framework to society, a revaluation, one that is experienced-based and graded with better focus on contact offences than being objectionable to the point of criminal – based on biblical moral principles.

    Such moral principles have served to hoist the parties by their own petard – whether on greed from expenses, lust for power, to using contacts to develop property for £5 appearing to be motivated only by money; to banning drugs despite the unproven harms, slagging off Gays and then committing adultery, it is these types of principles which the DUP (and others!) have so flagrantly used to project themselves into power. But they have abused them themselves they now they look ridiculous.

    There is no ‘morality for all’ – that’s why all political careers end in failure because they sell it as such so as to put it over the rest of us – and then get found out themselves!

    It all looks phoney and hypocrital. And it’s thank you and good night time to democracy for that.

  • DC

    Voting by post is an easy and convenient way of voting if you are unable to get to the polling station. This section tells you how voting by post works.

    To vote by post, you need to be on the electoral register. Then you need to fill in a postal vote application form.

    Nah you’re alright thanks, it’s even easier not to bother!

  • slug

    U think the expenses scandal perhaps has resulted in this?

  • DC

    I think people can’t be bothered as across the moral range the politicians have failed to pass their own principles, which they try and project on to others.

    Peter Robinson in particular and along with Iris are utter embarrassments, up there with Brown’s faux pas.

    So, basically in part to your expenses question – yes, I do.

    Even if you take Labour, what sort of Labour Party has values at its core of triple flipping, or take the Conservatives with the married MPs lying about their first and second homes so as to cash in – I’m thinking about Andrew MacKay and Julie Kirkbride. And Julie Kirkbride wanted to still try and stand again! Great family values there guys!

    Or take SF, standing for election but not going to Parliament yet still taking the British money, or Gerry Adams appearing to ring hollow as a bit of a dud and those troubling family issues – which will affect the elder generation more, given they are likely to be more disposed to church-going values. Then their is the catholic church thing lingering in the background – the great beacon of moral principles – err?

    Ask the younger generation and most reply “they’re all sell outs” to whatever principle (they’ve just broken).

  • SDLP Man

    The NI-specific rules for postal/proxy votes are unnecessarily draconian and the SDLP will be looking for changes after the election.

    The last date in NI for this election was Thursday 15th April (the first date of nomination for candidates, with the last date for nomination the following Tuesday 20th April!). In GB (England Scotland and Wales) the closing date was Tuesday 27th April, a difference of 12 days. In other words, you had to apply for a vote between the candidates’ slate is known.

    My political view is that a disproportionate number of households with 3,4,5, 6 or more voters in the one house are Catholic, and a lot of them are working away from home, at college etc. So this is an equality issue, which the SDLP has raised already.

    I know that in my part of South Belfast we always circulated a leaflet at the start of the campaign alerting large households to the closing date for postal/proxy votes and we always picked up a good few votes in that way.

    As for who is hurt by the fall in postal/proxy votes, I have a pretty good idea who is going to be affected most.

  • slug

    ” a disproportionate number of households with 3,4,5, 6 or more voters in the one house are Catholic, and a lot of them are working away from home, at college etc.”

    I can’t see any reason for that view. Do catholics tend to live with parents longer ??

  • Ash Cloud

    Maybe the stoops should have thought of that when every time they lost an election to SF they screamed about electoral fraud. This is the one of the hardest places in the world to qualify to vote in a democracy because of that idiot in the electoral office.

  • Drumlin Rock

    I think the very tight window to apply for the postal votes, is probably the main factor this time round, the idea of less SF workers on the ground is more intriguing though, I guess we shall see next week how it pans out. The point of clarity need is how many postal applications were rejected, and why, and can some system not be put in place to allow for corrections.

  • Oracle

    So what your saying Ash Cloud is that only Protestants are intelligent enought to ensure they qualify for a vote because Catholics are just too dumb…. because it’s Catholic areas that are affected and I’d say it’ll be SF votes missing….. sorry correctly denied due to fraud!

  • Glencoppagagh

    ‘My political view is that a disproportionate number of households with 3,4,5, 6 or more voters in the one house are Catholic, and a lot of them are working away from home, at college etc.’

    So why can’t they vote there? Or perhaps they do as well.

  • DC

    You raise a good point about the rejections, but going by the figures above it looks fairly universal in terms of the numbers dropping across all constituencies, there may well be another key point behind this?

    Nice of the SDLP man to revert to MOPEry – the fact that the general malaise at the mo with politics / politicians seems to be discounted by some above might just signify how out of touch our lot are.

  • oak leaf in north Belfast

    Just bought a house in the new Blackrock Development beside Mayfield (Newtownabbey) last month and managed to reg to vote but said my wife was to late. WTF? Useless is what comes to mind.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    There are two quite different topics here.
    Addressing the issue of “why?” people have put forward reasons…..apathy, lack of time to prepare, the relative import locally of the Assembly, a more rigorous approach by the Electoral Office. Frankly all are true. The extent to which you prefer one reason to another might be because you believe ir…..or choose to believe it.
    As for 16,306 fewer…….I declare an interest. My home is two of them. Cant account for 13,304 but I just didnt get round to it. Frankly there is no good reason for me to have a postal vote…I just preferred it. And the Irony is that this year 2010, I prolly had more “reason” as my window of opportunity to vote next week is limited to about five hours maximum.

    Looking at individual stats, again an agenda will explain away a lot.
    But if we use 1,000 postal votes LAST time as a base….we see that seven constituencies LAST TIME…..had less than 1,000 postal votes.
    Three Belfast constituencies….East, North, South, North Down, Strangford, South and East Antrim……all to some extent Greater Belfast where people can commute to/from work or college.
    Setting the next base at 1,500….we see that West Belfast, Lagan Valley and Upper Bann are in that range. So WB excepted theres a widening of the radius from Belfast to some extent.
    The next batch we set at 2,000 brings in East Derry and North Antrim. The radius theory/commute theory?
    The next say 3,000….brings in South Down, Newry-Armagh.
    Now dont get the sat navs out to check Crossamglen and Limavady to Belfast but those maybe indicate a slight imbalance in favour of nationalists……but then theres differences within constituencies.
    Belfast to say Downpatrick. Belfast to Warrenpoint.
    Belfast to Coleraine. Belfast to Dungiven.
    Belfast to Ballymena. Belfast to Ballycastle
    Belfast to Richill. Belfast to Middletown.

    This leaves four. Foyle (3,000) Mid Ulster (3,500) West Tyrone (4,000) FST (5,500). Nationalist certainly if you believe Nats are more “iffy” or “people living away from home” (if you believe that commute…..work/college is the answer) or simply the distance in rural areas to and from polling stations is more likely to be disadvantage the elderly and infirm.
    Realistically FST will always be the highest for ALL of those reasons plus its a cockpit, iconic and a Nat/unionist fault line.
    With 2,500 of these votes turned down it is likely that all the factors I mentioned are at play. But possibly SF in particular missed an opportunity to get more postal votes. Possibly they didnt reckon on a unity candidate until a late stage.
    Either way, there are several coaches lined up to take students from UUJ, UUC and Queens.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Always thought you a a chancer FJH, but 3,002 votes is surely pushing things a bit?

  • TheHorse

    The reality is most Nationalists are just not interested anymore they’ve been marched up and down the hill so many times by Sinn Fein only to be dissapointed by the total disregard given to them by Sinn Fein after each election, as for the SDLP well you only see them around when they are electioneering and anyway will our quality of life be any better whoever we vote for – Dont think so.

  • jeep55

    Interesting that the smallest fall is in East Belfast. I wonder which of the four hopefuls is causing EB to be less apathetic compared to the rest? Given the time of year postal votes tend to come from ‘away on business but must vote’ types and this is likely to be good news for Trevor Ringland and even better news for Naomi Long.

  • DC

    If the electoral commission shortened the length of time to respond the issue must be one of motivation, the motivation to vote within that time?

    Now, given that there has been doubts around the motivations of our politicians both at a national and regional level, with the motivations seeming to be ones of feathering their own nest over the values of representation and working for wider society the trust and beliefs in political values must be shot. So must the electorate’s willingness to vote. I would wager that it’s the much stigmatised political caste that has disenfranchised the people than the electoral system.

    If people don’t trust politicians to work on their behalf, without ripping off the taxpayers, why should people make the effort, or in this case, re-double their efforts to vote (given the shorter space of time?).

    I think this is an election in which the MPs personal psychology has been queried and found wanting and is out of kilter with the electorate’s.

    Yes you are right it is my bias, but the bias reflects the bias of certain MPs towards filling in expenses forms claiming for oak tables and leather briefcases and ridiculously expensive pens.

  • Drumlin Rock

    FJH, another factor is the voter turnout in the areas, ie. ND is prob half that of F&ST so you could half the figure to start, F&ST still holds the record turnout for a westminister election, and looks like this time will will remain high!

  • Ash Cloud

    Er…. no… please don’t make it up as you go along. What I am saying is every party is being affected whether nationalist or unionist. Fermanagh and ST have large numbers of postal/proxy applications from both unionist and nationalist. Not sure of how many of each are affected, but people are not being given their vote, considering the British Govt were considering allowing english voters to vote by text message at one stage! I personally know three legitimate people who have been refused. I am sure F&ST unionists can confirm similar experience.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    True but in part Voter Turnout is related to Tribalism, not a big thing in North Down and again that is related to the closeness of the contest.
    As about 14 of these contests are near certainties, I dont think there is much pressure to get the vote out.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Well yes thats true.
    And anyone looking at the reasons will take comfort, depending on their agenda. Could just be that the DUP are better organised in the many nursing homes in the area.
    But the fact is that in any Belfast constituency there are very few people who live more than a few hundred yards from a polling booth.
    We just dont know on reasons.

  • Simplemente Maria

    I can tell you my personal reason (I am from South Down). I used to apply for a proxy vote and just give it to the local shinners. Now I stopped voting all together – because there is nobody to vote for.

  • John O’Connell

    This is good news for the SDLP in Nat areas. Sinn Fein’s organisation has been less focussed this time. Perhaps they’re losing members as fast as they’re losing councillors.

  • redhugh78

    john,
    Judging by what I’ve seen of the stoops in my area, SF would have to lose a hell of a lot more people to come anywhere close to the paltry number of stoops on the canvass trail.

  • slug

    That seems terribly cynical. How appalling.

  • John O’Connell

    Aw, come off it Redhugh, Sinn Fein are disintegrating.

  • John O’Connell

    Aw come off it Redhugh, Sinn Fein are disintegrating.

  • redhugh78

    Disintegrating? how do you come to that conclusion John, honestly?
    Where I live in a remote area, they are the only party I have seen doing registration earlier this year and the only party to canvass here and that does rub off on people who might not be natural SF voters, at least they care about my vote is what I’ve often heard.
    I do not deny that the party has lost people but the facts are that the vast majority of people have remained with the party and they continue to recruit younger members.
    There is only one ‘nationalist’ party, I use that word lightly, disintegrating and you and I both know it aint SInn Fein.

  • John O’Connell

    I think you’re being overly technical, i.e. “doing regristration”, to be just a Sinn Fein voter. So you must be an activist. So all you’re saying is just spin with an attempt to dishonestly conceal the fact that you are an activist.

    Hmmm, I would say a party that has lost nearly 10% of its elected reps is disintegrating. That party is not the SDLP who haven’t lost any members recently so far as I know.