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Local government's failure to embrace technology is putting off our younger generation from voting

letter of the day: red tape

It is incredible, in the time of social media and the internet, that the public of Northern Ireland cannot register online to vote - a method which particularly appeals to the younger generations.

My son, for the first time in his life, decided he would like to vote in the recent EU referendum only to go online to find that this is only available to residents living in England, Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland, a form has to be downloaded and brought to the local Electoral Office. This he did.

He brought his passport, an inland revenue P60 (end of employment year form with national insurance number) and a letter from his bank confirming his address.

Was this sufficient? Of course not. They would not accept a P60 form, or a letter from the bank; they wanted a bank statement with name and address (he banks online, so does not have this), or a utility bill (he is temporarily living at home, so does not have any bills).

To add insult to injury, the Electoral Office sent him a letter regarding his application to the address they say he has not confirmed, threatening to prosecute him if he does not respond to the letter within seven days.

If he was still living in England (as he has been for eight years) he could have done all this online by submitting all his personal details, including his national insurance number, and voted there.

I am not surprised that younger people are not interested in politics in Northern Ireland, since we can't get away from Green and Orange.

But when the government rules actively discourage them from registering to vote, I really don't blame their lack of interest.

As a part of the UK, our government needs to wise up to the changing world and embrace technology.

They are actively discriminating against a large section of the community, who are the future of Northern Ireland.


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