The Chief Electoral Officer for the North, Virginia McVea, has confirmed that on Tuesday her office was aware of just 12 official complaints from disgruntled Foyle electors who had claimed their ballot papers weren’t available to them when they turned up at polling stations last week.
That’s just 0.017 per cent of a total body politic in Derry of over 70,000 voters.
Ms. McVea said Foyle MLA Mark. H. Durkan alerted her to two other instances when he met with her this morning to discuss concerns over allegations of voter impersonation in Derry on Thursday.
“We had a handful of cases and these were passed to the PSNI,” she told this paper.
Voters who believe they have been wrongfully denied their vote are encouraged to submit ‘pink’ draft ballots at their polling stations.
“We had 12 people who completed the ‘pink slip’, which, in large measure, means they turned up at the polling station and their votes were not available to them,” said Ms. McVea.
“Mr. Durkan made me aware of another two people who had not completed the pink slip, but who reported similar experiences,” she added.
Ms. McVea said that, while the Electoral Office is committed to eliminating all instances of voter fraud, the number of anomalies in Foyle last week, 12 to 14 instances out of an electorate of 70,324, was very small - 0.017 per cent.
Following her meeting with Mr. Durkan, and complaints from People Before Profit over the alleged use of post-it notes, notepads or phones inside some of the city’s polling stations, the north’s election facilitator said each instance of alleged impersonation was a cause for concern and something she took extremely seriously.
She also indicated that in Derry there have traditionally been more allegations of voter fraud than in other constituencies.
“I can tell you that historically Foyle has had a higher number of pink slips than in other areas where the occurrence level is either zero or single digit figures,” she said.
Ms. McVea said that over the last number of elections allegations of voter impersonation increased from four in the Assembly Election of May 2016, to 10 in the Assembly Election of March 2017, to 12 on Thursday.
She said: “I would just encourage everyone who had any concerns to report the matter to ourselves or the PSNI.”
Meanwhile, the PSNI has confirmed it is investigating a small number of reports of electoral fraud, following referrals from the Electoral Office.
Chief Superintendent Karen Baxter said: “We work closely with the Electoral Office and where information becomes available in relation to criminal activity, we take action.”
“Anyone with concerns about electoral fraud should contact the Electoral Office of Northern Ireland.”