The Electoral Commission has found that proper procedure was not followed in the decision to close Howard Primary School in Moygashel as a polling station.
Chief Electoral Officer, Graham Shields, announced at the end of January that voters in the Moygashel and Benburb wards would have to use Dungannon Leisure Centre and Roan PS Eglish as alternative locations on polling day.
The decision to close Howard PS as a polling station was made by Mr Shields after reports that loyalist flag protesters had created a “hostile environment” at the local council and European elections in May 2014.
Maurice Morrow of the DUP challenged Mr Shields’ decision and handed in a petition of signatures from people in the Moygashel areas opposed to the move.
Now, the Electoral Commission, in a letter to Mr Shields dated today, Wednesday, found that those who had previously used Howard Primary as a polling station “should have been given an opportunity to provide their views on this change to their polling arrangements and we are satisfied that this did not take place”.
The Commission also stated: “Having found that the review was not conducted in such a way as to meet electors’ reasonable requirements, we therefore direct you under section 18D(4)(a) RPA 1983 to reinstate Howard Memorial Primary School as the polling place for the voters who you allocated to Dungannon Leisure Centre and Roan St Patrick’s Primary School, Eglish.”
In response to that letter, the Electoral Office said a further two week consultation would take place on whether polling should continue at Howard PS,
The extended consultation will run until Thursday 9 April.
The Electoral Office said a decision on future arrangements for affected voters would be made as soon as possible after that date.