As the election campaign intensifies this week ahead of the first televised leaders’ debate on Wednesday, candidates will this morning be offered expert medical advice at a breakfast event in Belfast.
The event, which has been organised by a number of medical organisations, will include The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy offering advice on “political posturing”. The physios will urge the politicians to stretch themselves and move positions between now and May 5.
Candidates will receive a “nutritious breakfast” while receiving advice from medics on everything from the diet necessary to stay energised on the campaign trail to expert advice from The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists on “how to avoid vocal strain and improve your communication skills”, including the possibility of a “personal consultation with a specialist in voice to give guidance and explain vocal techniques to effectively promote your campaign messages”.
The would-be MLAs will also receive advice from chiropodists on looking after their feet while canvassing and occupational therapists’ “mindfulness techniques” to reduce stress.
A flyer sent to candidates says: “Political campaigns are one of the most demanding events you could ever be involved in and candidates often overlook the dangers that a hectic election season can pose to their health.”
Pay voters to vote, says Ukip hopeful
Voters should receive financial recompense for their effort, a Ukip candidate has said.
Amid concerns about falling electoral turnouts, Stephen Crosby proposed that there should be “tax rebates or incentives” for those who vote.
The Strangford candidate said: “In the last Assembly election the average voter turnout was 55 per cent. In some places like North Down it was as low as 45 per cent. This meant that more people there did not vote, than voted.”
Mr Crosby said that the authorities could either make voting compulsory – as is the case in Australia – or use the “carrot” so that voters could get “for instance £100” even if they spoilt their ballot paper.
In Australia, turnout is around 95 per cent thanks to a fine of $170 for non-voters who cannot show a valid reason for not voting (such as a religious objection).
Key dates to ensure you are able to vote
If you are on the electoral register (you can phone 0800 4320 712 to check if you are) but will be unable to vote in person on May 5, Thursday is the deadline for applying for a postal or proxy vote.
Postal or proxy votes are available in circumstances such as a planned medical operation or being out of the country on polling day.
As the names suggest, a postal vote allows you to receive a ballot paper well ahead of polling day and post it to vote; a proxy vote involves appointing a trusted person to vote on your behalf.
The overall deadline to register to vote is a week from today – Monday, April 18.
Tomorrow is both the deadline for candidates to nominate and for candidates already nominated to withdraw their names from the ballot paper.