Monday 21 January 2019

‘Significant modernisation’ of Irish electoral registration process proposed

Simplified procedures would include online access as well as better verification of identity to improve the security and accuracy of the roll.

Proposals for the most significant modernisation of Ireland’s electoral registration process in a century have been unveiled (Niall Carson/PA)
Proposals for the most significant modernisation of Ireland’s electoral registration process in a century have been unveiled (Niall Carson/PA)

By Michael McHugh, Press Association

Proposals have been unveiled for the most significant modernisation of Ireland’s electoral registration process in a century.

Simplified procedures including online access as well as better verification of identity to improve the security and accuracy of the electoral roll are among measures outlined for public consultation.

Members of the public can have their say until March.

Minister for Electoral Reform John Paul Phelan said: “These changes, if implemented, would be the most significant reform of the electoral registration process since 1918.

“As well as removing an excessive number of steps involved in applying to be included on the electoral register, the proposals would further increase the register’s ability to keep up to date with changing individual circumstances and, therefore its integrity.”

These changes reflect changes in how we live today John Paul Phelan

He said reducing the number of different forms, allowing people to register online and introducing a process of continuous or rolling registration would make the process much more user-friendly and similar to the way people interact with other State services.

He added: “These changes reflect changes in how we live today.

“Having a registration process that recognises and facilitates more frequent changes of address is crucial in maintaining an accurate register.”

The proposals include:

– 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 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.

Press Association

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