Belfast Telegraph

88% register to vote in elections

Almost nine out of 10 people eligible to vote in Northern Ireland elections have registered.

The failure of some in South Belfast to respond to the electoral canvass was blamed on the special circumstances of students and the transient population of the inner city.

Next year's European and local government elections will be followed by a Westminster poll in 2015 and for the next Assembly in 2016.

Chief electoral officer Graham Shields said: "This has been a very successful canvass. The electoral register in Northern Ireland is now at its most accurate and complete than ever before."

The new roll, published today, contains the details of 1,241,079 electors out of the estimated total eligible electorate of 1,405,808. The estimated electorate is based on information drawn from the 2011 census.

The updated register is estimated to include 88.3% of the eligible population.

The constituencies with the highest proportion of eligible electorates were Newry and Armagh and West Tyrone, with 92%. The lowest was South Belfast, where many students live temporarily, with 70.5%. That may be down to the counting of students at their term-time address in the 2011 census and at their home address on the electoral register, the Electoral Office said.

The cost of the canvass was almost exactly £3 million.

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said: "It is an improvement but some people don't want to be on the electoral register and a message still has not gotten across to people that by law they must be on the register.

"There is a public education that has still to be grasped."

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