Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland election was a shambles and embarrassing, claims polling station manager

Many people in Northern Ireland were denied the right to vote in the General Election after being incorrectly left off the electoral register, a polling station manager has claimed. (stock photo)
Many people in Northern Ireland were denied the right to vote in the General Election after being incorrectly left off the electoral register, a polling station manager has claimed. (stock photo)
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

Many people in Northern Ireland were denied the right to vote in the General Election after being incorrectly left off the electoral register, a polling station manager has claimed.

The whistleblower, who has 32 years of experience working inside polling stations, said many people coming to vote in Downpatrick were erroneously not on the electoral register.

He told the Nolan Show: "People were coming in with their correct ID and their polling card with all the information on it who obviously should have been on the register but were left out.

"People's families were coming in, four of them were coming in and three of them were on the register and the fourth one might not be.

"They all got the poll card delivered at the same time obviously, (they were saying) I have got my poll card, I have got my ID and I have been left off the register now. It was happening so often.

"I can see it happening once where an error has been made when you are not on the register and you can be offered a tendered ballot paper, but this is happening so often. Rightly or wrongly, I made the decision to give them a vote," he added.

The whistleblower said there was three ballot boxes in his polling station, and each one had the same problem.

He added: "It was happening on average once an hour where people were coming in without their cards, or with their cards and not on the register."

The polling station manager said he has never experienced problems like this in the past.

"I also had a young girl coming in who was honest enough to admit to it, she came in with two polling cards - one under her first name and surname and another with her first name, middle name and surname and she told me they were both her cards," he added.

"She appeared on the register twice, so in theory she could have come in under one and voted and then come back a little while later and voted again."

The whistleblower described the situation as a "shambles and an embarrassment" and called for an investigation into the matter by the Electoral Office.

The Nolan Show has also revealed that the Electoral Office told a voter in the Fermanagh-South Tyrone constituency that the deadline to submit information to be put on the register was December 3, when in fact it was December 4.

It raises questions about the outcome of the vote in seats with marginal majorities, including Fermanagh-South Tyrone, which Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew won with a majority of just 57 votes over Tom Elliott from the Ulster Unionist Party.

Last week a 23-year-old whistleblower, who was sacked from his role within the Electoral Office, made a series of allegations about how voter registrations were handled in the lead up to the December 12 election.

The Electoral Office was not available for comment but in a previous statement promised to investigate the claims.

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