Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

New count centre will avoid results delay: electoral chief

An extra count centre is to be introduced in Northern Ireland to avoid a repeat of the chaos which followed a marathon wait for results in 2011.

Only two constituency counts would be held at one location, with all four Belfast constituencies tallied in the city by 2015, chief electoral officer Graham Shields said. Westminster and Assembly elections are planned for 2015.

Politicians were critical of counting times in the Assembly and local government elections two years ago after a referendum on the voting system at Westminster was held on the same day.

Mr Shields said: "I am now satisfied the issues that arose during the 2011 polls have been, or will be, satisfactorily addressed before the next major election. However, I do not think it would be prudent to ever again hold three or more polls simultaneously."

Nine count centres would be used instead of eight and all Belfast constituencies would be calculated in the same place.

Mr Shields' principal concern surrounding the holding of multiple polls at once related to the impact on voters and the likelihood of confusion resulting in spoiled ballots, his written evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of MPs said.

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