world : Election being held at 'peak holiday time' in NI

world : Election being held at 'peak holiday time' in NI
world : Election being held at 'peak holiday time' in NI

Wednesday 12 June 2024 10:50 PM

Nafeza 2 world - The upcoming general election is taking place at peak holiday travel time for Northern Ireland voters.

Polling date is 4 July, making it the first election during the NI school holidays in almost 80 years.

Almost 300,000 passengers are expected to travel in and out of NI that week.

Unlike England and Wales, school holidays begin in Northern Ireland and Scotland at the end of June, meaning more people are likely to be away on polling day.

In the UK there are 650 electoral areas - constituencies - in which voters choose a single member of Parliament (MP) to represent them at Westminster.

In Northern Ireland there are 18 constituencies, each with a seat in the House of Commons up for grabs.

The last general election in the summer holidays was on 5 July 1945.

Belfast’s two airports expect around 270,000 passengers flying to and from the city in the week of the election – making it one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.

There will be 68 flights in and out of the City of Derry Airport that week, while around 20,000 passengers are due to depart Belfast via Stena Line ferries.

Jas Hogg told BBC News NI she probably wouldn't vote if she was heading on holiday.

"With it being July and the kids being off school, everyone's wanting to go on holiday straight away," she said.

"It's not very convenient being on 4 July. It probably could have been timed a bit better."

Jas said she hasn't seen "a lot of information" about how to vote when on holiday.

"I probably wouldn't vote if I wasn't here because I haven't seen enough information about it.

"That's probably the last thing you're thinking about. That's why you're going away from here, to get away from it all, realistically."

Patricia Brown said the summer date shouldn't matter.

"No it won't make a difference. If I was on holiday I'd just get a postal vote.

"I think that if you're interested in politics and want to vote you'll just do it."

Chantel Berger, from Texas, said she would "absolutely not" see a 4 July election in the USA.

"For me it's quite bizarre. In the US it's a national holiday and a big celebration," she said. "It seems pretty odd to have it on 4 July.

"If it's in the school holidays, maybe it gets the kids involved in voting? And understanding the importance of voting."

But she added that she will be spending 4 July celebrating with family and enjoying a barbecue by the swimming pool.

Belfast International Airport told BBC News NI it is expecting more than 200,000 passengers in the first week of July, including people arriving and departing.

Belfast City Airport has said it expects "up to 10,000 passengers a day" at peak holiday times.

City of Derry Airport said "34 inbound services and 34 outbound services" would operate to European and UK destinations in election week.

And a spokesperson for ferry company Stena Line said: “The first week of July is traditionally one of our busiest travel weeks, with somewhere in the region of 20,000 passengers departing Belfast on our Belfast-Cairnryan and Belfast-Liverpool routes each year.”

Not all of those passengers will be holidaymakers, however; for business travellers election week will just be business as usual.

You can apply for what is known as an absent vote. Here’s what you need to know.

There are two types of absent vote - a postal vote and a proxy vote.

Polling stations are open between 07:00 and 22:00 on polling day.

If you will not be able to turn up in person during those times - and you have already registered for the general election - you can apply for a postal vote, external.

It does not matter whether you will be on holiday, working or simply find mailing your vote more convenient.

You will need to prove your identity when applying.

A ballot is posted to you in advance of the election, to be completed and posted back to the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland.

The deadline to apply for a postal vote in Northern Ireland, external is 17:00 on Friday 14 June 2024.

A proxy vote means appointing someone you trust to attend the allocated polling station to vote on your behalf.

The rules for voting by proxy have changed. If you applied for a proxy vote before 31 October 2023, this has expired and you need to apply again.

The deadline to apply for a proxy vote in Northern Ireland, external is 17:00 on Friday 14 June 2024.

You can apply for a permanent or a temporary absent vote for postal and proxy votes, but an explanation must be given.

A temporary absent vote can be applied for if, for example, you are going on holiday or are sick.

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