Timeline of an Assembly vacancy, part two: the correspondence trail

Catching up on a few emails, I realised that I’d neglected to post the second part of a post started in early September about the timeline for co-opting a replacement MLA (Conall McDevitt) and the sequencing of the process between the Speaker, EONI and the political party (SDLP in this case). While relatively mundane it does illustrate the various stages and worth putting into the public name to remind us of the process the next time an MLA needs to …

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Timeline of an Assembly vacancy using South Belfast as an example (bottom line, SDLP need to give a name to EONI by Friday 13th)

The NI Assembly has had numerous vacancies and co-options over the years, but few have generated as much interest at the resignation of South Belfast MLA Conall McDevitt and the SDLP’s process of replacing him. So how does the process work? Who’s involved? And what is the timeline? Article 6B of The Northern Ireland Assembly (Elections) (Amendment) Order 2009 holds the relevant process. Section 6B (1) was triggered last week when the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Graham Shields received written …

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What to expect at the count (AH AH AH AH AH!)

Ian Paisley Junior and others hunkered down on the ground tallying votes being validated face down at the 2009 European Election

What should you expect to see at the count on Thursday night if you’re turning up as a party worker, a journalist, an election observer or a member of the public lucky enough to find a count centre allowing you in? What follows is my understanding of what will happen. (EONI’s Guide for Candidates is a good source of information.) The first ballot boxes will arrive at the count centres from nearby polling stations shortly after ten o’clock. As soon …

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Posters, walkthroughs, boundary changes, Facebook – reflections in Lagan Valley

In the last of these three posts looking at the campaign in Lagan Valley, I’ll broaden it out from just canvassing to look at a few other things I’ve picked up along the way. Posters seem to be a necessary evil. The unanimous verdict across the five parties I talked to in Lagan Valley is that as long as one party puts them up, the others will be forced to follow. While a local agreement was put in place to …

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Fears over the end of the overnight count allayed

At the end of last summer, the media was buzzing with fears that right at the moment that Northern Ireland was re-embracing overnight counts, many English local authorities were threatening to pull out of nocturnal calculations at the General Election. As you’d expect, a Facebook group was formed, and electoral officers (described by Tory MP Peter Bone as “tin-pot, upstart little town clerks”) across the UK were surveyed to find out their plans. By January 2010, BBC Newsnight’s Michael Crick …

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So what happens on the doorstep?

UCUNF's Daphne Trimble and canvassing team consulting the street map before setting off around the doors

All the candidates (and canvassers) have a fixed patter that they repeat ad nausea on every doorstep. Rosettes and ties are out with the UCUNF team in Lagan Valley, but in with DUP and TUV. A sitting MP has an advantage – and knows it. No one tells unionists canvassers that they vote nationalist or Alliance. All that and many more reflections from watching the parties canvass in Lagan Valley.

Canvassing for beginners

Bring pens, maps, water and a coat. Wear comfortable shoes. Don’t forget to eat. Keep track of the bookies’ odds. Develop a sixth sense for whether a house is empty or occupied. It’s all good advice for candidates canvassing around the doors of their prospective constituency. During last year’s Euro election I blogged about the process of checking postal ballots, polling day, the main verification of votes, and the eventual counting of the ballot papers. This year I’ve gone a …

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