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Northern Ireland

On this page you will find information about the work we do in Northern Ireland.

For information on registering to vote in Northern Ireland visit the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland website.

Polling stations are now closed

Voting at the Northern Ireland Assembly election is now closed.

Counting of votes takes place from 8am on Friday 8 May.

Recommendations to improve the efficiency and management of single transferable vote election counts in Northern Ireland

We have published our recommendations to the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland on how improvements can be made to the efficiency and management of single transferable vote election counts in Northern Ireland.

Read our recommendations for improvments for STV election counts in Northern Ireland (PDF)

In our statutory election reports on the 2011 Northern Ireland Assembly election and the 2014 European Parliamentary election we identified a number of planning and management issues that contributed to the delays that took place during the counting of votes.

These included issues such as the lack of an overall management plan, poor communications and contingency planning, the quality of some staff working at the count and poor management of the count on the day. In our 2014 report we also gave a commitment to work with the Chief Electoral Officer to look at what could be done to improve the efficiency of the manual counting of STV elections in Northern Ireland.

In autumn 2015 we undertook a project, working closely with the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland, to look to how counts at elections using the single transferable vote in Northern Ireland could be made more transparent and efficient. As part of the project we ran two workshops and a mock count event to analyse the current count model and consider alternatives for improving the count process.

Following the project we are making four recommendations to the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland which we believe have the potential to improve efficiency, transparency and provide cost savings.

These recommendations include the introduction of the 'mini count model' to single transferable vote elections in Northern Ireland.

We believe this model, which breaks the management of counts into small areas, has the potential to make significant improvements to the efficiency and transparency of election counts in Northern Ireland. This process has been used at other elections across the UK and is widely accepted as being particularly effective in achieving an accurate, timely result with clear audit trails.

It is clear that implementing such a move ahead of the Northern Ireland Assembly election would be challenging, but the Chief Electoral Officer should consider further if any elements of the mini-count process can be effectively trialled in May 2016, be it on a small scale across all count venues or with a greater focus on one count venue.

We will continue to work closely with the Chief Electoral Officer ahead of the election in May and beyond to ensure our recommendations can be taken forward.

If you would like to discuss the issues raised in our briefing paper or would like to arrange a meeting please contact Cahir Hughes in our Northern Ireland office on 02890 894028 or email chughes@electoralcommission.org.uk.

Contact us

Contact details for our Northern Ireland office are available on our contact us page

Northern Ireland