[Sinn Fein]

15th January 2003

Adams Challenges Electoral Office

Speaking at a press conference in Belfast today along with colleagues Dara O'Hagan MLA and Pat Doherty MP, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP said that the onus was on the electoral office to sort out the gigantic mess that has resulted in over 187,000 people being missing from the register.

Mr Adams said: `` The Electoral Register issued in December 2002 shows that 130,000 people across the North who were on the Electoral Register of June 2002 are not on this register.

`` In addition to this the 2001 census figures released in December 2002 show that another 57,683 people across the North eligible to be included on the register do not appear. This brings the total to 187,683 people eligible to be on the register who do not appear.

`` This is a seriously flawed registration process and a mess of gigantic proportions. It will affect supporters of all the political parties but particularly those who come from a disadvantaged background.

The Electoral Office and Electoral Commission has for example presided over a situation where:

* In various constituencies citizens have complained that they completed registration forms returned them to the various electoral offices and have not appeared on the register.

* Yesterday the Electoral Office admitted that they had over 13,000 completed forms unprocessed in December when the register was published.

* Supplementary forms for photographic identification which require the exact same information as those for voter registration.

* A revised voter registration form aimed at correcting the shortfall in registration omits the section dealing with photographic identification has been issued.

The hurdles and obstacles put in the way of people seeking to register to vote is unacceptable.

I am therefore calling on the electoral office to:

* Inform all of those people who are registered to vote.

* Canvass the 130,000 people absent from the June 2001 register.

* Launch immediately an effective publicity campaign encouraging the people to register

* Establish Help clinics in local areas to advise how to fill in forms

* Encourage young first time voters to register through issuing forms to 6th formers at school

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