Headlines: April 8th, 2008

New statistics show that almost half a million more people have signed up to be able to vote in time for next month’s local elections. Figures covering the period from December 2006 to the end of last year show registered voter numbers have increased to a record 46 million.

The report from the Ministry of Justice shows that in the past two years nearly a million new voters have joined the electoral register and are eligible to vote in the local elections. The figures measure the impact of the Electoral Administration Act, which was introduced to encourage participation. It means potential voters are able to register up to 11 days before an election.

The Elections Minister, Bridget Prentice, said it was important to have as comprehensive an electoral register as possible. “Our democracy only works if people vote, she said. The task now was to build on what had been achieved so far. “Democracy underpins the fabric of our society and provides a voice for those who are vulnerable and marginalised. No vote means no voice,” she added.

The statistics show that registration figures for local government electors increased by 294,318 after the annual canvass of 2005. After the introduction of the Act, which was in time for the 2006 canvass, the figures increased by 513,054 and by a further 463,340 last year. Meanwhile figures for registrations of parliamentary electors were up by more than 371,000 in 2006 and a further 307,669 in 2007.