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Manx election bank holiday plan is a ‘non-starter’

Ballot box with Isle of Man emblem Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Hooper said having less to do would “encourage people to get out and vote”

An MHK’s plan to make general election day on the Isle of Man a national holiday to boost voter turn-out is a “non-starter”, a minister has said.

Lawrie Hooper MHK, who said islanders were “having problems” getting to the polls because of “busy lives”, raised the idea in the House of Keys.

However, Policy and Reform Minister Chris Thomas said he was “absolutely sure” the move was “not necessary”.

The last general election on the island, in 2016, saw a 53% turn-out.

That figure is considerably lower than in the UK, where 69% of those eligable to vote turned out in 2017.

‘Important factors’

Elections to the House of Keys take place every five years, on the fourth Thursday in September.

Speaking before the sitting, Mr Hooper said the island “should consider this idea”.

“If you had a bit less to do on election day, maybe if you didn’t have to go to work on that day, maybe that would encourage people to get out and vote.”

In parliament, Mr Thomas said there was “no intention to have general election day 2021 as a national holiday”.

He said while the issue would be “welcomed” by some, “a number of important factors would need to be taken into consideration, not least the impact on the Manx economy”.

He added that the Isle of Man currently has 10 bank holidays, two more than the UK, and “it seems to me a non-starter to have an eleventh” as the “impact on business would be quite substantial”.

The island’s extra bank holidays are June’s Senior Race Day and July’s Tynwald Day.

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