Belfast Telegraph

Local Election 2019

Concern over issue of proxy voting papers to people who didn’t apply

Serious: Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan
Serious: Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

Politicians from across the political spectrum have warned that people in the Derry and Strabane Council area are being issued with proxy votes despite not applying - prompting fears of vote stealing.

The number of proxy votes issued in Londonderry's West Bank has dropped since the Westminster election in 2017 but the figure remains significantly higher than in other areas ahead of tomorrow's local elections.

Most people registered for a proxy vote received notifications from the Electoral Office this week - but already reports of abuse in Derry are emerging.

Independent candidate Sean Carr said the parents of a young woman with Downs' Syndrome contacted him when they discovered their daughter was registered for a proxy vote.

Mr Carr said: "The Electoral Office needs to step up to the mark and take a look at the proxy vote application system because there have been reports of it being abused in a number of different wards in the Derry area"

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan called for the Electoral Office to seek evidence to support a proxy vote application.

He said: "So many people are oblivious that they have signed their vote away and while some people don't value their own vote and don't mind signing a piece of paper there are those who have taken the proxies and literally stolen votes which is a very serious offence."

East Londonderry MP, Gregory Campbell has raised the issue in Parliament.

He said: "The Electoral Office needs to be incredible diligent in how they ascertain the application to see what is genuine and what is not and then immediately after this election there needs to be a review of the proxy and postal votes process for further election contests."

Chief Electoral Officer Virginia McVeigh said one person in the Derry area had contacted them about an abuse of proxy votes but she advised anyone with concerns to get in touch.

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