Northern Ireland

Electoral Commission criticises European election count delay

Scene of 2014 European election count in Northern Ireland
Image caption Northern Ireland's European election count ran into a second day in May

A watchdog has criticised the length of time it took to count votes in Northern Ireland during May's European election.

The Electoral Commission has also criticised the way the count was organised and how staff were deployed.

The commission said significant work needed to be done to consider the benefits of electronic counting.

Electoral commissioner Anna Carragher said lessons need to be learned ahead of next year's General Election and the next NI Assembly elections in 2016.

She leads the independent watchdog that monitors how Northern Ireland's elections are run.

In its latest report, the commission has found almost nine out of 10 voters were satisfied with their experiences and found that May's local government and European elections were well run.

However, the report questions why the European count took so long.

It concludes there was a lack of overall management and oversight and ineffective use of staff.

There was also concern that election officials did not have a contingency plan.

Voters went to the polls on Thursday 22 May, and counting to elect three MEPs began on Monday 26 May, after the local government elections were completed.

Unexpectedly, the European count ran into a second day and a number of politicians criticised the length of time the process took.

In its report, the Electoral Commission has said that electronic counting should be used, but not before the costs and benefits of the new system have been examined.

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