Northern Ireland Office Minister of State, Rt. Hon Hugo Swire MP, has commented on the conduct of the recent elections in Northern Ireland.
The Minister said:
Holding three polls at the same time was an unprecedented challenge for the Electoral Office and all those involved in the administration of the process. I am grateful to the Chief Electoral Officer and all those who worked tirelessly in the run up to, during and after these polls for their efforts.
Commenting on concerns expressed about the time taken to count votes at the Assembly election, the Minister said:
The Chief Electoral Officer’s main priority was getting it right and ensuring that all Assembly members and councillors were properly returned. He has achieved this.
However, I know that many people have expressed concern about the time taken for results to become known at the Assembly election count, which was caused mainly by the need to verify three sets of ballot papers on the day after the poll. I understand their frustration and am grateful to elections staff for working particularly hard to ensure that the Assembly count was completed by the end of the second day of counting as planned.
After any election, the Government reviews events and examines lessons to be learned with the Chief Electoral Officer and the Electoral Commission. In light of the concerns expressed, I will ensure that work is taken forward to find ways to help speed up the counting process for future elections.
Notes to Editors
On 5 May 2011 there were three electoral events held on the same day in Northern Ireland for the first time; the local elections, Assembly elections and the AV referendum. The local and Assembly elections were held under the PR-STV voting system.
Polling took place between the hours of 7am and 10pm on 5 May.
The AV referendum and Assembly count were completed over 6 and 7 May, with all 108 Assembly members returned as planned on 7 May.
The local election count took place as planned over 9 and 10 May with all 582 councillors returned.