Northern Ireland

Electronic voter registration opens in NI

Ballot box Image copyright PA
Image caption Up to now, paper forms had to be filled out and returned to a local election office

People in Northern Ireland can now register online to vote.

Those not currently on the electoral roll will be able to input their details in a process which takes a few minutes, the chief electoral officer has said.

Electronic voter registration was introduced in all other parts of the UK in 2014.

Up to now in Northern Ireland, paper forms had to be filled out and returned to a local election office.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's morning show, Northern Ireland's chief electoral officer Virginia McVea said: "You can go online on any device and in just a few minutes you can be registered.

"The paper version is still there so people don't need to worry, they can do that way if they choose. But now you don't have to download or collect a form."

'Turnout envy'

In 2016, the Electoral Office said so-called e-registration would be in place by the end of the year.

However, there were repeated delays in implementing the system, and it was not ready for either the Northern Ireland Assembly or Westminster elections which took place in 2017.

Ms McVea said Northern Ireland's voter registration and turnout remained generally high.

"We have over 1.2 million (registered) out of a population of about 1.8 million. The turnout is over 800,000," she said.

"We had the US consul general with us recently and they look at places like Northern Ireland with envy in terms of our turnout and registration. We are really keen to move that up and up."

In Great Britain, 90% of voter registrations are now made online.

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