Election halts plan to close local electoral office

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

THE future of Banbridge Electoral Office has been parked due to the impromptu elections next month.

A new consultation period, which was looking at rolling out online registration for voters in Northern Ireland, closed on 9 January - the same day that a new Assembly election was announced.

The electoral office on Bridge Street has been faced with closure and local jobs at risk as there are plans to centralise all the regional electoral offices in Belfast.

The Electoral Office was asked did the snap election mean that they were putting off a decision after the election on 2 March, however they failed to provide The Outlook with a response.

At the end of October last year, Ballymena and Newtownards Electoral Offices closed their doors. It left four remaining regional offices throughout Northern Ireland and their fate was to be known within the first few months of this year.

However, it is now looking likely that what will become of the electoral office will not be made public until after these Stormont elections.

The last consultation, which finished on 9 January, focused on allowing Northern Ireland voters to be able to register online for elections and comes as part of a review of how electoral services are delivered.

The proposals are contained in a joint consultation by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and the Electoral Office.

It would bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK and it's hoped will make registering to vote easy and secure.

At the time, 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."

Previously a Electoral Office spokesman said that "any further decisions will be taken after the close of the consultation period".


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