Thursday 22 August 2019

ID cards plan to stamp out election fraud

New law to also consider use of PPS numbers

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Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Voters could be asked to provide a Public Service Card or their PSS number to vote in the next election, under new laws being considered.

The Government is planning to overhaul the election system as part of an attempt to address problems with the electoral register.

The proposals being drafted by Minister of State for Local Government John Paul Phelan are aimed at cleaning up the register and reducing the risk of election fraud.

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government receives complaints after most general elections about voting cards being sent to houses and apartments where the named voter is no longer a resident.

The introduction of a 'single identifier' system of voting would require every voter to produce a unique number or identification at a polling station to vote.

Government sources believe asking voters to produce a PPS number or Public Service Card is the most efficient way of ensuring the register of the electorate is as accurate as possible.

Under the plan, a voters' PPS number or Public Service Card identifier would not be retained or published in the publicly available electoral register.

In the US, voters are required to produce their social security number to vote in elections.

Mr Phelan will bring an electoral reform report to the Cabinet in the coming weeks.

In the majority of cases, all that is needed to vote in an Irish election is a polling card.

Voters are advised to bring identification but in most cases are not asked to produce it at polling stations as long as they have a polling card.

Numerous forms of identification are accepted, ranging from a driving licence or passport to an employee identity card. It is also acceptable to show a cheque book, a cheque card, a credit card, a birth certificate or a marriage certificate, as long as you also have another document which confirms your address in the constituency.

Local authorities are currently responsible for compiling the electoral register.

Concerns have been raised about the increase in State services requiring applicants to produce a Public Service Card.

The card is needed for a range of government services from collecting social welfare payments and child benefits to the free travel pass for older people.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties said it was "gravely concerned" about the use of the Public Service Card for an increasing number of services as it is a particularly intense interference with privacy rights was a "particularly intense interference with privacy rights".

Sunday Independent

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