[Sinn Fein]

7th January 2003

200,000 voters missing claims Foyle MLA

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA, Mitchel Mc Laughlin has claimed that according to Census figures up to 200,000 people eligible to vote are missing from the Electoral Register.

Mr. Mc Laughlin is calling for an urgent investigation into the apparent discrepancy between the declared population of voting age in the recent Census Report and the number of electors registered to vote.

The Sinn Fein MLA said:

``A comparison between the latest census figures and the most recent electoral register would seem to indicate that there are around 200,000 people eligible to vote according to the census figures that are not on the register. This is a very worrying disclosure and is something that cannot be ignored. This critical issue should be of concern to all parties, as these missing voters must cover every political opinion.

``I intend approaching the Ombudsman's Office and the Equality Commission to request an investigation into how this discrepancy occurred and what steps can be taken to rectify the situation''

``The figure of 200,000 votes cannot simply be explained away as people failing to register nor is it entirely due to the new registration requirements. What we have is 200,000 people that have been disenfranchised and this will obviously have a major effect on the electoral process and is something that all parties should be concerned about. These figures require an urgent investigation to ascertain exactly how this situation came about.''

``Another area of concern is the fact that there appears to be a higher percentage figure for registration in constituencies and wards that could be described as unionist than in similar nationalist areas. But I do not want to labour this point, as it requires detailed investigation.''

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