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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 07:21 GMT 08:21 UK
NI voters go to the polls
Ballot box
Voting will get under way in less than 24 hours

Polling stations have opened across Northern Ireland as the European elections get under way.

Three MEPs from the province will be among 78 members of the European Parliament elected across the UK.

Polling began at 0700 BST on Thursday.

Northern Ireland's Chief Electoral Officer Denis Stanley said the postal voting system in the province, which was different to the system in other parts of the UK, had worked fine.

He also urged people not to worry if they had not yet received a polling card.

"The poll card itself is not needed for those people who are qualified to go to vote," he said.

"We did send them out at the end of last week. There may be one or two that are delayed in the post, but they are all out there and hopefully people will get them.

It seems to us impracticable to try to get the hundreds of people we need to help us with all of this on a Sunday night
Denis Stanley
Chief Electoral Officer

"The poll card really is just there to tell people where they have to go to vote and the ID documents they need to bring and a few other details.

"But it's not necessary. People simply need to turn up and make sure they have gone to the right place and have the right documents."

He pointed out that four documents were required for identification, but they must be current as out-of-date versions would not be accepted.

These are a UK or Irish passport, a Northern Ireland or Great Britain driving licence or Northern Ireland provisional licence bearing a photograph, a Translink senior smart pass for the over-65s, or electoral identity card.

He also explained why the count would not begin until Monday.

'Right results'

"The legislation requires that no results shall be announced until after the last country in Europe has finished voting. The last country in Europe does not finish voting until nine o'clock on Sunday.

"That would mean we would be starting our count sometime late on Sunday evening to avoid making the announcement any earlier than 9pm.

"It seems to us impracticable to try to get the hundreds of people we need to help us with all of this on a Sunday night. We think it is much better to do it on the Monday morning."

Asked if it took away some of the excitement associated with elections, he said: "We are not in the business of providing excitement or not.

"We are in the business of giving the right results in the right time."




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