Monday 21 October 2019

Fears for Fingal's ballot integrity

Votes will be opened in RDS but moved to city west for counting

Fears have been expressed over the integrity and security of ballots cast in Fingal in the upcoming local election after the County Sheriff announced the votes will be opened and counted in two different venues.

At the March Monthly Meeting of Fingal County Council, members expressed their dissatisfaction with the proposal for the operation of the Local Election Count.

This arises as, in addition to the Local Elections two other ballots will take place on the same day. Namely, the European.

This year the Sheriff intends to take control of all ballot boxes at the end of polling day.

It is his intention to have all the boxes from across the four Dublin local authorities brought to the RDS where the boxes will be opened and reconciled.

At this point the Fingal Local Election Ballot Papers will be dispatched to City West Hotel in Saggart in South County Dublin for the actual election count.

Councillor Cathal Boland raised the issue of this proposal and was joined in his criticism by several other councillors. Boland said: 'Local Elections are local and they should be counted in the county for which the election is held.'

But apart from the venue for the count, Cllr Boland expressed concerns about the votes being transported to City West after the boxes had been opened.

He said: 'The full process of an election should be open to scrutiny. Large numbers of ballot papers shuttling across Dublin is unacceptable.'

Cllr Darragh Butler (FF) agreed. He told the Fingal Independent: 'This won't just delay the results because we won't get the votes at the count centre until the afternoon, there are obvious concerns about the integrity of the ballot box.'

He said: 'We are going to have opened boxes of uncounted votes transported under Garda escort to City West.'

'For us, the concern is the boxes have been opened and we have lost sight of the votes,' he added.

The concern over the decision was widespread among councillors who will have their concerns raised with the Sheriff in a letter from the Fingal Mayor.

Fingal Independent