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Last Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006, 13:53 GMT
Appeal made over minority voting
Ethnic minorities must be encouraged to vote, commission says
Political parties in Northern Ireland should be more inclusive of minority groups and their views, the Electoral Commission has said.

It found only four in 10 people from black and minority ethnic communities are registered to vote, compared with over 90% of the population.

The research also showed that nearly a third did not know how to register.

One in five said they did not vote because they did not want to appear to be taking sides in NI politics.

Electoral Commissioner Karamjit Singh said: "Participation in the democratic process can only be enhanced if political parties make efforts to be more inclusive of minority ethnic communities.

"As with other institutions in Northern Ireland, political parties need to be receptive, responsive towards and representative of the diverse social reality surrounding them."


The Electoral Commission report also found that 25% of people from ethnic minorities said they did not know they had to register to vote.

About a quarter of those who were registered said they had done so because a canvasser from the Electoral Office had called at their door.

Of those who did not vote, 25% said that they were not interested in politics while 22% cited a lack of knowledge about politics in Northern Ireland.

Seamus Magee, head of the Northern Ireland Electoral Commission, said they already had anecdotal evidence about low registration and voting among minority groups.

"With a rapidly growing ethnic minority population in Northern Ireland there is an increasing need to find more innovative ways to encourage registration and voting, including producing information in other languages," he said.

Anna Lo, of the Chinese Welfare Association, also appealed to political parties to help.

"Political parties need to go out to explain about their parties, but also to make a point of including ethnic minority issues," she said.

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