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This document sets out the government’s response to comments received about draft legislation which would introduce anonymous registration in Northern Ireland.
Anonymous registration would enable vulnerable individuals to vote without the risk of being traced via the full electoral register. It was first introduced in Great Britain in 2007.
A number of comments were made on the legislation proposed for Northern Ireland, including in relation to:
- the list of individuals able to attest applications
- the length of time for which an individual would be entitled to register anonymously
- the impact of the change on transparency of political party funding
- equality issues.
The government expects the new legislation to come into force on 15 September 2014. It would apply to elections to the UK parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly, European parliament and local councils.
The legislation would enable vulnerable individuals to vote without the risk of being traced via the full electoral register. This would address concerns from those whose personal safety may be compromised if their details were publicly accessible.
The proposed legislation is consistent with the system introduced in Great Britain in 2007, although a small number of differences would apply in Northern Ireland, namely:
- The legislation would permit eligible applicants to register to vote anonymously for five years, rather than one year as in Great Britain.
- Anonymous individuals would be required to vote by post because the use of identity checks at polling stations in Northern Ireland means that a ballot paper cannot be obtained without photographic identification.
The government expects the new legislation to come into force in June 2014. It would apply to elections to the UK parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly, European Parliament and local councils.