Northern Ireland

Rathlin ballot box 'under threat'

Rathlin Polling station
Image caption Voters arrive to cast their vote at a polling station on Rathlin Island

A Ballycastle councillor has criticised proposals by the Electoral Office to remove the only ballot box from Rathlin Island.

Sinn Fein Councillor Cara McShane said the proposals to scale back on the number of polling stations will have a detrimental impact in rural areas .

The ballot box on Rathlin Island is one of the 610 voting locations across NI.

The Polling Station Scheme Review Consultation closes on 23rd December 2010

Ms McShane it was a case of "undemocratic and blatant discrimination."

"If allowed to go ahead this proposal would result in electors travelling by boat to Ballycastle to cast their vote, or alternatively availing of a postal vote.

"Many people, particularly those from older generations, wish to exercise their democratic right to cast their vote at a polling station to ensure accountability and transparency, never mind the potential for inclement weather conditions which could prevent anyone from travelling to vote on the day.

"As to the idea that a postal vote is a simple alternative, the reality is that given the strict guidelines and bureaucratic nature of applying for one through the Electoral Office, many people are discouraged and put off from voting in this way, or miss the deadline because their initial application is refused.

"I would encourage everyone to respond to the consultation to stop this proposal slipping through.

"The Rathlin Island community deserves to be treated on an equal basis as other island communities throughout Ireland and to have the opportunity to cast their vote at the ballot box, the same as every other citizen in Ireland."