Tuesday 20 August 2019

Calls for online voter registration

Myles Buchanan

Councillor Jennifer Whitmore has called for online voter registration to be rolled out in County Wicklow.

At last week's meeting of Wicklow County Council, some Councillors questioned how the voting register for Wicklow is compiled, with complaints that some constituents had been removed from the register without their knowledge.

The council is responsible for compiling the Register of Electors, which is updated annually. Each year, an intensive door-to-door campaign is carried out in order to attain the highest possible degree of accuracy.

Cllr Joe Behan said: 'People should only be removed from the register if there is a written request from them to do so. People are being taken off the register and are saying they didn't receive any form of notice.'

Thomas Murphy, Director of Services for Enterprise and Corporate Affairs, said Wicklow had a great team involved in compiling the register. Each house in the county is visited and in some cases an premises could be visited up to three times to ensure contact is made with the occupants.

Cllr Jennifer Whitmore pointed out that a new online voter registration system was made available to voters in Dublin.

'This process should be a lot simpler - we really need to make it as easy as possible for people to register to vote and to participate in elections. It was run as a pilot scheme in Dublin. We should ask the Minister to roll it put to Wicklow,' she said.

Cllr Mary Kavanagh said she was in agreement with Cllr Behan.

'I have heard all sorts of horror stories of people being taken off the register after being on it for donkey's years. They didn't know they had been removed until they went down to vote,' said Cllr Kavanagh.

'Just because you haven't heard back from someone doesn't mean they have been notified,' she added.

Cllr Anne Ferris said: 'We all lead busy lives. We have things coming in our letter boxes everyday, from pizza offers to free news papers. Notices from people about the updating of the electoral register can easily get lost.'

Cllr Edward Timmins felt people should be written to first and informed their name was going to be removed in order to give them an opportunity to say they wanted t remain.

Mr Murphy replied: 'We don't remove anyone without first advising them in writing. That's the last resort and happens after a field worker would have already visited the property two to three times.

'Also we have to be aware that there are also a cohort of people who don't want to be on the register for different reasons,' said Mr Murphy.

Bray People