People not on the electoral register have a week to sign up - or risk missing out on a Covid windfall. he public is being encouraged to sign up to the new electoral register by August 10, in order to guarantee access to the upcoming GBP100 high street voucher. Those on the current register don't need to - although they will still need to enroll in order to vote next year. The voucher scheme will see a GBP100 pre-paid card given to every adult here to be used in shops and hospitality establishments throughout Northern Ireland.
People are set to receive the cards in early September when an online portal opens for applications.
The application process for the card will involve verifying people's identity using the electoral register, which is currently being updated through a canvass. The process for updating the register takes place every 10 years. While the majority of people will remain on the current electoral register until it is wiped later in the year, some people are not on the roll - and therefore risk missing out on the voucher scheme unless they register by next Tuesday.
The Electoral Office said the high street voucher scheme will use September's electoral roll as part of the process for verifying people and preventing fraud. They added the deadline for registering on the roll as part of the September database will be August 10. "If you have applied to register from 1 July 2021 you do not need to re-apply in connection with the High Street Voucher Scheme," the Electoral Office wrote on their website.
Clarity on Electoral Roll & High St voucher:
If you're on the 'old' roll you still qualify as it is not purged till later this year
If you're not on the old roll you do need to register by this day next week
To vote next year you will need to re-register if you're on the old roll
"The scheme will have its own application process and the Electoral Register as at 1 September will be purchased by the Department for the Economy for the detection of fraud in accordance with Regulation 111 of the Representation of the People (NI) Regulations 2008.
"The deadline for applying to be added to the 1 September Register is 10 August." Earlier on Tuesday, Finance Minister Conor Murphy had caused confusion when he encouraged people to register on the electoral roll, claiming only one in three across Northern Ireland had done so. "If only 30% of people are accessing the high street voucher scheme, it's not going to have the economic stimulant affect that the executive wants it to have, so I would encourage people to get themselves registered," he told the BBC.
"Primarily because it's important for people to vote, but certainly in terms of the economic stimulus that the executive envisaged the high street voucher scheme having, that would severely undermine it if we don't see a significant uptake in electoral registration." However, the Electoral Office has since clarified the current register was not wiped on July 1, and there are currently 1.3m people in Northern Ireland still registered in their database. They said since the announcement of the high street voucher scheme last Thursday, around 145,000 further people have registered on the electoral register up to Monday this week.
The Department for the Economy and Department of Finance have been contacted.