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Clause 3 — Absent votes and declarations of identity

Part of Orders of the Day — Election Fraud (Northern Ireland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:15 pm on 31st October 2001.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland) 9:15 pm, 31st October 2001

There is an issue about the traceability of the forms that are going out from the CEO to individuals. The Minister's argument that the process would be too bureaucratic is well made, and he talks about the opportunity for parties to photocopy the forms and make application on photocopied forms. That in a sense is not, as I understand it, precluded by amendments Nos. 3 and 4.

The Minister must still address the fact that the reason why at the moment the forms are in pretty much the same format as those issued by the chief electoral officer is that they cannot yet be checked by computer, but by 2003 he wants to be able to computer-check these things. Unless the applications come in on a specified form once the computer-checking is up and running, the whole point of that computer-checking will be negated.