Rathlin ballot box 'under threat'

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Rathlin ballot box 'under threat'

Post  Rathlin Info on Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:04 am

A Ballycastle councillor has criticised proposals by the Electoral Office to remove the only ballot box from Rathlin Island.

Sinn Fein Councillor Cara McShane said the proposals to scale back on the number of polling stations will have a detrimental impact in rural areas .

The ballot box on Rathlin Island is one of the 610 voting locations across NI.

The Polling Station Scheme Review Consultation closes on 23rd December 2010

Ms McShane it was a case of "undemocratic and blatant discrimination."

"If allowed to go ahead this proposal would result in electors travelling by boat to Ballycastle to cast their vote, or alternatively availing of a postal vote.

"Many people, particularly those from older generations, wish to exercise their democratic right to cast their vote at a polling station to ensure accountability and transparency, never mind the potential for inclement weather conditions which could prevent anyone from travelling to vote on the day.

"As to the idea that a postal vote is a simple alternative, the reality is that given the strict guidelines and bureaucratic nature of applying for one through the Electoral Office, many people are discouraged and put off from voting in this way, or miss the deadline because their initial application is refused.

"I would encourage everyone to respond to the consultation to stop this proposal slipping through.

"The Rathlin Island community deserves to be treated on an equal basis as other island communities throughout Ireland and to have the opportunity to cast their vote at the ballot box, the same as every other citizen in Ireland."

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Re: Rathlin ballot box 'under threat'

Post  Rathlin Info on Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:34 am

Keep Rathlin ballot box - Murphy Regional Development Minster Conor Murphy has written to the chief electoral officer to call for the ballot box on Rathlin Island to stay.

The Electoral Office is currently consulting on new polling arrangements and is proposing not to have a polling station on the island.

Mr Murphy said he believed the removal would go against the Executive's agreed Rathlin Island Policy.

He said he would discuss the issue with islanders during a visit on Saturday.

He will be accompanied by the Republic's Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Pat Carey.

"One of the strategic aims of the Rathlin Island Policy is to enhance community involvement," Mr Murphy said.

"I consider that asking the electorate to either travel to Ballycastle to vote or to apply for a postal vote does not encourage such involvement and would further serve to isolate the community."

Rathlin, which lies off the coast of north Antrim, is Northern Ireland's only inhabited offshore island.

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Re: Rathlin ballot box 'under threat'

Post  Rathlin Info on Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:37 am

Islanders petition against Rathlin polling plans


Inhabitants of Northern Ireland's only inhabited off-shore island have launched a petition against the proposed removal of their polling station, ahead of the Assembly Election next May.

The Electoral Office is currently consulting on the future locations of the region's polling stations and has proposed sending Rathlin islanders to Ballycastle to cast their votes.

Over 20 people have already signed the petition drawn up by the Rathlin Development and Community Association and made available in the island's shop.

Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy has also written to the Chief Electoral Officer to ask him to reconsider.

"I believe that the proposed removal of the polling station on Rathlin is contrary to the Executive-agreed Rathlin Island Policy," Mr Murphy said.

"One of the strategic aims of the Rathlin Island Policy is to enhance community involvement and I consider that asking the electorate to either travel to Ballycastle to vote or to apply for a postal vote does not encourage such involvement and would further serve to isolate the community."

The Sinn Féin representative will meet with the islanders on Saturday to discuss the issue during a visit to Rathlin. He will be joined by the Republic's Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, Pat Carey.

Graham Shields, who succeeds Douglas Bain as Chief Electoral Officer, said: "While I am confident that the proposals outlined in the consultation paper will help us provide an improved service, it is important that politicians and electors have their say."

If the proposals are implemented, the number of polling stations across Northern Ireland would be reduced from 1512 to 1415.

The consultation period, during which the public can raise any concerns about the plans, will run until December 23.


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