Danger less than 50% of electorate will vote

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There’s a real risk less than half of the electorate will vote in tomorrow’s elections in Foyle and East Londonderry if recent apathetic trends continue.

Turnout was down every Westminster and Assembly poll in Foyle over the past decade, with an average decrease of 3.43 per cent.

If there is a further dip of a similar magnitude it could push turnout to just above the 50 per cent mark, with every chance it could fall below that nadir for the first time ever, if there’s an accelerated decrease.

It’s hoped, however, that keen interest in a three-way unionist tussle, a contest between the leaders of Northern nationalism, and a crowded field of 16 candidates in Foyle, will get the vote out and prevent what would amount to an indictment of local democracy by a turned-off electorate.

And whether the absence of Gregory Campbell’s and John Dallat’s names from ballot papers in East Londonderry will have any affect on turnout remains to be seen.

However, voters have turned off there over the past decade.

In 2007, for example, 60.9 per cent of the electorate in East Londonderry cast ballots.

That was down to just 52.2 per cent last year.

The 60 to 70 per cent turnouts last seen in the 1990s are seemingly a thing of the past as our once highly politicised electorate becomes more and more apathetic.

Polling staions will be open from 7am to 10pm tomorrow.

For more on the election turn to pages 20-21 and 22-23.