Derry posted the second highest drop in voter turnout in poll

An analysis of last month’s election shows one of the biggest falls in voter turnout occurred in Derry.

An election report by Dr. Raymond Russell shows that compared with 2017 turnout was down significantly.

“The largest falls were in Fermanagh and South Tyrone (3.5 percentage points), Foyle (3.4 percentage points) and Mid Ulster (2.9 percentage points),” he states.

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Dr. Russell’s report for the Assembly research service shows May’s poll featured the third lowest percentage of voters coming out of the entire post-1998 Stormont era.

A fresh analysis of last month’s election shows turnout was down in Derry.

Last month 61.6 per cent of the eligible electorate cast ballots in Derry. Only in 2011 (57.8 per cent) and 2016 (56 per cent) was voter participation lower. Turnout was significantly down on 1998 when 72 per cent of eligible electors voted in Derry.

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A separate report by Dr. Robert Barry shows the importance of transfers in securing the election of second SDLP MLA Sinéad McLaughlin. Dr. Barry notes: “In the 2022 Assembly Election, only 21 MLAs had a sufficient number of first preference votes to meet the quota and to be elected at the first count.

“The remaining 69 were elected at a later stage and required transferred votes. A total of 199,199 votes were transferred during the 2022 Election count.”

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He notes ‘the SDLP took a seat, despite having the seventh highest number of first preference votes (a UUP candidate had the fifth highest number of first preference votes, but was displaced to sixth after transfers)’. A similar scenario played out in East Derry ‘where the SDLP [Cara Hunter] took a seat, despite having the sixth highest number of first preference votes (a Sinn Féin candidate had the fourth highest number of first preference votes, but was displaced to sixth after transfers)’.