Monday 15 July 2019

Family receives apology from council after removal from electoral register

A Bray man was disappointed to discover that he and his elderly parents had all been removed from the electoral register without their knowledge, when they went to vote in the recent elections.

Simon Doyle of Novara Lane said that he has been in touch with Wicklow County Council and received a response reinstating the family on the register.

'My mum went to Coláiste Ráithín in Bray on the day of the election and they had a list of people who had been removed from the list without any notification.'

'My dad is 88 and has always voted since the 1950s,' said Mr Doyle. 'I wouldn't mind if someone would admit the mistake.'

'There's a very simple solution, if you have a problem managing a database of that size then break it down into smaller chunks, for example do a third of it a year for three years.'

In a letter to Mr Doyle, the council told him that according to the legislation, the register shall be prepared and published in every year. The new register comes into force on February 15 of each year.

Again according to the legislation, the local authority must make a house to house 'or other sufficient' inquiry in their registration area.

'The registration authority may for the purposes of their duties in relation to the preparation of a register require a person... to give any information in his possession which the registration authority may require,' reads the legislation.

'Wicklow County Council, as registration authority, send out field-workers each year to check the accuracy of the existing register and to make additions to and deletions from it,' wrote the council.

Normally, the field worker makes a call and if there is not reply, leaves a voter registration form and a note. If there is no response, the field workers call back again three weeks later, again leaving a form if there is nobody home.

'If, after two door knocks and the leaving of two sets of notices and forms, there is no response, it is reasonable for the council to consider the possibility that there are no eligible voters resident in that household. In such a case, a letter is personally addressed to any existing voters registered at that address requesting that they confirm their residence or otherwise indicate their new address. If this letter also fails to evoke a response, any electors at that household are deleted and a final letter is personally addressed to any existing voters registered at that address informing them accordingly,' wrote the council.

They said that in the case of the Doyle family, the procedure was not followed correctly.

'I very much regret that this has happened,' wrote the council spokesperson. 'Your deletion and consequential inability to exercise your franchise at the recent elections and referendum occurred because of a human error of omission.'

They said that there is no record of any follow up letters having been sent to the household.

All residents have now been re-added to the register.

Bray People