Online registration will be rolled out for voters in Northern Ireland within months as part of a comprehensive review of how electoral services are delivered in Northern Ireland, UK government minister Kris Hopkins and Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland Graham Shields announced today.
A consultation paper entitled Future delivery of electoral services in Northern Ireland gives everyone with an interest a chance to shape how electoral services are delivered in the most effective way after the introduction of digital registration and before the next cycle of elections commences in 2019.
The overarching aim is to ensure the people of Northern Ireland can access modern, efficient electoral services while being confident in the safety and security of the electoral process.
The consultation invites respondents to consider three main areas:
- Making the most of digital registration to ensure Northern Ireland follows success in Great Britain where 90 per cent of registrations are now made online;
- A greater role for local councils in Northern Ireland in managing elections and providing local electoral services such as advice and support to residents; and
- Ensuring that the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland (EONI) can provide the best possible service on a sustainable financial footing for years to come.
Northern Ireland minister Kris Hopkins said:
Digital registration will bring Northern Ireland into step with the rest of the UK and promises to make registering to vote more straightforward. This consultation will help to manage the transition whilst maintaining public confidence in how elections are managed.
I have seen first-hand how councils can play an important role in the delivery of elections, maintaining a vital local link to the wider democratic process. I am pleased therefore that this consultation seeks views on giving them an enhanced role. I will be actively encouraging all our partners in Northern Ireland to take part in the coming weeks.
Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland Graham Shields said:
The introduction of online registration will make registering to vote quick, easy and secure for the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland. It will also change the way in which electoral services are delivered more widely, which is why this consultation looks at options both for restructuring of the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland and increasing the role of district councils in managing elections and providing advice and support to local residents.
Everyone with an interest in this important issue should submit their views on how we should go forward.
The consultation will close on Monday 9 January 2017. Full details on how to respond are set out in Chapter 3 of the consultation paper.