Public Sector: Electoral Commission to stage pitch for NI brief

The Electoral Commission is on the hunt for an agency to help tackle voter apathy and to explain the electoral system in Northern Ireland.

The Electoral Fraud Act 2001 changed the voting system in the province, making it necessary for voters to register individually - elsewhere in the UK, voters register as households.

Northern Ireland residents are also expected to show photographic identification to register to vote.

Commission campaign manager Becky Lloyd said the new system needed explanation.

'There is a downward trend in the number of people voting, not just in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK but across Europe in general,' she said.

'But this brief is to explain the electoral process as well as to encourage more people to get involved in our democratic system.'

Future challenges for the commission include communicating the proposed referendum on the European Constitution and a possible Northern Ireland Assembly election.

The assembly is currently suspended due to troubles with the peace process.

However if these difficulties are resolved, an election may be called.

Pitches for the three-year contract - currently held by Belfast-based incumbent Aiken PR - will be held in August. The commission was set up in 2000 to foster public confidence and participation in the voting system.

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