Local author Rob Thompson to serve as election observer in Ireland
Attica resident will serve as an election observer in Northern Ireland on 5 May, the date set for the election of its Legislative Assembly, the legislature of Northern Ireland. Rob Thompson is accredited by the United Kingdom Election Commission and is trained by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the EU.
COVID-19 forced many elections to be rescheduled and now with the world opening back up so to speak election calendars are being filled up as well. Over the next 18 months, my schedule includes, besides Northern Ireland, election work in Sweden, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Estonia. In May, and subsequent short-term missions I will work at several polling places in West Belfast ensuring the election process follows principles established by the 1990 Copenhagen Document; “universal, equal, fair, secret, free, transparent, and accountable.”
An issue I found of interest has been Brexit, during the 2019 vote England and Wales voted to leave the EU while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. With Brexit’s victory, the question was would there be a hard border between NI and the Republic of Ireland. But a protocol was negotiated and is intended to protect the EU single market while avoiding the imposition of a 'hard border' that might incite a recurrence of conflict. Under the Protocol, Northern Ireland is formally outside the EU single market, but EU free movement of goods rules and EU Customs Union rules still apply; this ensures there are no customs checks or controls between Northern Ireland and the rest of the island. Periodically NI will vote to remain or reject the protocol, the first consent vote is scheduled for December 2024. May’s election of the Legislative Assembly could be a bellwether vote, of whether or not NI is edging toward desiring independence or will remain Unionist.