Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Counting fiasco a national embarrassment

The point is sometimes made that politics in Northern Ireland seems different to that in other parts of the UK.

Given our culture and history, there are bound to be some local nuances here.

However, one of the real differences, and regrettably so, is the slow speed with which our election results are announced compared to those in England, Scotland and Wales.

To claim that Northern Ireland gets off to a slow start would be an understatement. Long after voters in other parts had been given their results, we were still listening to politicians and commentators filling in time while they waited for our ponderous counting process to start.

The farcical scene here was in stark comparison to Scotland and Wales where the counts went on overnight to ensure the results were known by teatime.

Northern Ireland was even the last to declare its average turnout for the AV referendum - heaping further embarrassment on the province.

This farce has led to a lack of excitement which has added to the creeping apathy already evident over here. The recent election campaign was one of the most boring on record, and this has been reflected in the relatively poor turnout. However, our long count added to the tedium of the whole process, making people even more likely to switch off.

Elections should be the lifeblood of our democracy; something we take for granted in a world where nations in the Middle East and elsewhere are undergoing turmoil to win the privilege to vote.

The outcome of the election is vitally important for our future and it is crucial that the results should be made known quickly as possible to maintain essential momentum in the election process.

A hard look must be taken at the whole process. There is no point in claiming that this system served us well in the past.

The pace of life is moving on and we must move with it. We need to make the counting here faster, more efficient and hopefully more interesting to voters.

Let's get on with it and make the counting really count.

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