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Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006

Section 6: Alteration of registers: pending elections

40.Currently, a person may only vote in an election if they appear on the register on the date the nominations for candidates for the election close. This can mean that the effective deadline for registration is many weeks before the poll. Section 6 will allow electors to register closer to the date of the poll. This measure is broadly similar to that in section 11 of the EAA, and will allow electors not on the register to apply in time to meet a new “late registration” deadline. This deadline will be set in regulations made under this section; it is anticipated that it will be set at eleven days before the poll.

41.This later deadline means the CEO will not have sufficient time to make the normal checks on the information provided by the applicant before polling day. In order to ensure this new facility does not increase the risk of fraud the section provides that individuals who apply for “late registration” will have to provide additional material supporting the application and will not be allowed an absent vote. The specific material to be provided will be specified in regulations, but it is intended to be aimed at seeking proof of residence.

42.The CEO must publish a notice specifying any consequent late alterations to the register on the “appropriate publication date”, which is defined in section 13B(5) of the 1983 Act (attracted by subsection (13) of the new section 13BA inserted by the section) as “the sixth or fifth day before the date of the poll, as the registration officer may determine”. This notice is used by polling officers to verify those entitled to vote and can also be used by political parties for canvassing.

43.The section also provides for alterations to the register as a result of a court decision, or a clerical error following a representation to the CEO, to be made up to a prescribed time on the day of poll (whereas currently the deadline is the fifth day before the poll). The CEO must publish a notice forthwith if any such alterations are made. The deadline for any alterations to correct clerical errors that do not follow a representation made to the CEO remains the fifth day before the poll, and notice of these alterations must be issued on the appropriate publication date.

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