More than 60,000 people removed from electoral register

Sinn Féin election posters appeared in Carryduff, Co Down, on Tuesday ahead of the Assembly election. Picture by Mal McCann
John Monaghan

MORE than 60,000 voters have been removed from the electoral register since the last Assembly election.

Anyone who did not return a registration form during the last canvassing of households was automatically removed from the register.

In order to be able to vote in the upcoming election in March, those affected must complete and return a form by February 14.

Almost ten per cent of unregistered voters are in the West Belfast constituency, with just under 5,000 in Foyle and more than 4,000 each in North Belfast and South Down.

An Electoral Office spokesperson said: "A total of 60,433 names were removed from the electoral register on 1 December 2016.

"These were the names of people who did not return an electoral registration form during the last canvass of electors in 2013.

"The Electoral Office for Northern Ireland has written several times to all of those affected by this - most recently last autumn. Anyone who did not return a form at this time was, as required by law, removed from the register."

The Electoral Office has said it will be launching a public awareness campaign and is encouraging those not on the register to contact 0800 4320 712 or to visit their local office.

Meanwhile, the first posters for the election have appeared, within hours of a polling day being fixed for March 2.

Sinn Féin appeared to be first off the mark, with posters erected in Derry on Monday evening, despite the party remaining tight-lipped about who the candidates will be in Foyle and whether Martin McGuinness will stand.

More Sinn Féin posters were also in display in Carryduff, on the outskirts of south Belfast by yesterday afternoon in a constituency where Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir will be hoping to repeat his poll-topping performance last May.

Further down the Saintfield Road The Irish News observed an SDLP poster - however it appeared it was still there from last year's election.

Several posters promoting candidates from last year's election have been spotted at locations across Northern Ireland, despite regulations stating that posters must be removed within 14 days or parties can be fined up to £2,500 under enforcement action by local councils.

The SDLP, which has not confirmed its candidates for South Belfast, did not respond to a request for comment on when the poster would be removed when contacted yesterday.

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