The Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, T.D., has invited the public to give their views on the Government’s proposals for reform of the electoral registration process before the public consultation ends this Friday (15 March).
Speaking today, Minister Phelan said: “Most of us will use the electoral registration process during our lives. It’s a very important part of the democratic process. The Government’s proposals, if implemented, would be the most significant reform of the process since 1918. I ask all with an interest in the proposals or who want to see electoral registration made simpler and user-friendly to give us their views by Friday.”
Minister Phelan concluded: “Public confidence in the electoral registration process is essential. The Government wants to hear the views of the public or organisations, be they support for or concerns with particular proposals. By giving their views now, people can help refine these proposals and make the process one that caters for modern living and the needs of all — one that continues to enjoy public confidence.”
The proposals for reform of the electoral registration process are:
- A more streamlined, simplified electoral registration process, with a single, simplified form.
- Rolling, or continuous registration – rather than the current draft, live and supplement versions of the register – this will provide for a single, live register at all times.
- The introduction of online registration as an optional alternative to paper-based registration – currently people must complete paper application forms and send them to their local authority.
- Individual registration only – currently the use of household forms could potentially result in people being included on the register or their registration details being amended without their explicit consent.
- The establishment of a single, national electoral register database to be used by all local authorities to standardise data formats and processes; help prevent and remove duplicate entries and ensure standardised data protection and management procedures.
- Improvements to the system of identity verification, including through the possible use of PPSNs, to streamline the system by minimising the need to present documentation to a local Garda station and minimise the potential for duplicate entries or erroneous amendments.
- The possibility of data sharing between public bodies and electoral registration authorities to maintain details. Data sharing could involve the automatic updating of someone’s address details for electoral registration purposes when they change address with another public body.
The Minister is also proposing:
- Allowing provisional registration for young people aged 16-17, e.g. through a schools programme, with registration automatically becoming active on their 18th birthday.
- Specific provision for people with no fixed address e.g. people experiencing homelessness, to ensure a standard procedure across the country.
- Provision for anonymous registration for people whose safety may be at risk if their details are public on the register, e.g. where court ordered protections exist.
- Removal of provision for the edited register, which is used infrequently in any case but may no longer be an appropriate use of data connected with the electoral register.
Responses to the proposals will be accepted on or before 15 March 2019.
The public can find information on the proposals at www.registerreform.gov.ie
People can give their views by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to:
Electoral Registration Project Consultation
Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government