Rathlin ballot box – removal would not promote democracy

Standard

The right to vote is a right that has been fought for over many years. In Northern Ireland we exercise this right in the usual way of attending a polling station near to our homes, providing Identification to ensure that we are entitled to the vote (why this is not introduced throughout the UK is anyone’s guess), marking our ballot paper which is issued there, and place it in the ballot box.

Under the draft polling place scheme that is being proposed by the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland for the constituency of North Antrim, the people of the island of Rathlin will be forced to travel to Ballycastle.

In today’s Belfast Telegraph, Sinn Féin’s Cara McShane claims that this is

undemocratic and blatant discrimination

Whilst I am not convinced that it is blatant discrimination, it is certainly not very democratic. Liberal Democrats cherish the right to vote, and the democracy that is brought about by it. That is why we are fighting for Fairer Votes in elections to Parliament at Westminster.

Unless the postal vote rules are changed, then the people of Rathlin will be forced to travel off their island to make their vote heard. I call on Douglas Bain, Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland to change this plan and restore the ballot box to Rathlin Island.

Rathlin Island (Photo: from Belfast Telegraph)

About these ads

6 thoughts on “Rathlin ballot box – removal would not promote democracy

  1. Even if

    Don’t be ridiculous.
    They are no more isolated than many rural dwellers who don’t have the provision of the publicly subsidised transport that Rathlin has, with the introduction of a super duper new ferry.

    Islanders still have right to vote except they have now been asked to travel the 6 miles to the polling station.

    Should they not wish to make this journey, the alternative is the postal vote.

    If people can now commute daily from Rathlin, to work on the mainland, then why the big fuss about making the 20 minute trip to vote?

    • Michael Carchrie Campbell

      … the alternative is the postal vote,

      Not in Northern Ireland.

      Northern Ireland’s rules for postal voting are much different from those in the rest of the United Kingdom. It is not easy to obtain a postal vote. If the rules were standardised then this would be a solution.

      If people can now commute daily from Rathlin, to work on the mainland, then why the big fuss about making the 20 minute trip to vote?

      This does take into consideration the problems that would ensure were the ferry not to be running on Polling Day as can happen due to the vagaries of Rathlin Sound, and the channel towards Ballycastle. This stretch of water is particularly bad for very odd currents, to say nothing of the weather.

      • Even if

        Not according to the ferry website, which claims around 99%
        reliability.
        In May 2011 thee ferry will be into the summer season, so there will be about 10 return sailings per day, which surely affords ample opportunity to vote.

  2. P A MagLOCHLAINN

    Michael is perfectly correct. Anyone who knows the north coast is well aware of the dangerous waters even in the short distance from Rathlin to Ballycastle, and how storms can suddenly sweep straight in from the North Atlantic.
    Your objector clearly doesn’t know Northern Ireland, or he’d not have suggested using postal votes.
    There is an important principle at stake here, and we must strive to maintain democracy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s