Fewer than 7,000 people have joined the electoral register in Northern Ireland since last month’s Assembly election, despite a huge campaign across the UK to get more people to register to vote in Thursday’s referendum.
By contrast, elsewhere in the UK half a million people registered on one day alone – the last day of registration, June 7.
Due to problems with the online registration system, registration was then extended for two further days in the rest of the UK, but not in Northern Ireland.
That may indicate that the absence of online registration in Northern Ireland has contributed to lower registrations.
There are now 1,291,588 people registered to vote in the Province – a 6,837 increase from 1,284,751 for the Assembly election.
According to the 2011 Census, there are around 1.5 million people over the age of 18 resident in Northern Ireland. Some of those – such as those who are citizens of other countries – may be ineligible to vote, but a significant number have either chosen not to do so or forgotten to get on the register in time.
The total eligible electorate for Thursday’s referendum is 1,260,955 – a figure lower than that eligible to vote in the recent Assembly election due to the different eligibility rules.
Last week a Millward Brown Ulster poll indicated a turnout of about 68 per cent, while yesterday an Ipsos MORI poll for the Belfast Telegraph suggested that there will be a similar turnout of less than 70 per cent. However, the final turnout could be slightly lower, as generally more people tell pollsters that they will vote than actually turn out.