Electoral roll mix up leads to confusion

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A mix up over polling stations in south Belfast has caused confusion and could affect voter turnout, it has been claimed.

As a result of inaccurate information printed on poll cards, hundreds of residents in the Lisburn Road area were informed they were required to vote up to a mile and a half away from their usual polling station.

The Electoral Office has since written to all those affected - confirming the mistake and notifying voters they should vote at the Fane Street primary school (close to the City Hospital) as normal rather than travel to St Bartholomew’s Church of Ireland in Stranmillis.

However, one man with an elderly relative at a sheltered housing scheme in the Cromac electoral ward said he knows many people are confused by the conflicting information.

Roy Rogan said; “These old people, some of them are 80 years-of-age, are going to try to get over to St Bartholomew’s Church - walking or by taxi or whatever way they can - and then find they have to go back to Fane Street.

“The older people don’t understand what is happening. They have to bring the letter with them, which has the right polling station on it, as well as the card [with the wrong information] because the [voter] number is on the card.”

Ulster Unionist council candidate Jeffrey Dudgeon is one of the residents affected by the mix up. He said: “It is worrying to say the least that so many, particularly older people, will now be in a state of total confusion.”

A spokeswoman for the Electoral Office apologised for the inconvenience caused and said: “All those involved have since received letters advising them of the error and also confirming the correct location of their polling station. Replacement poll cards with the correct information will be issued next week.

“The problem arose as a consequence of a processing error whilst updating the electoral administration system to facilitate the revised local council ward boundary structure.”