The Government has launched a public consultation on proposals to reform the electoral registration process.
Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, T.D., launched the consultation on 17 December and said the proposals are aimed at enabling people to register in simpler and more user-friendly ways. The way people register to vote or amend their details (for example, address) on the Register of Electors has not changed significantly since the foundation of the State.
There are seven main proposals:
- Simplification of forms and the process
- A rolling electoral register (continuous registration)
- Optional online registration (with the option of registering with paper forms continuing) and secure self-service
- A move to individual registration only
- Enabling a single national electoral register database with unique identifiers
- A move to verified identity using one’s Personal Public Service Number (PPSN)
- Data sharing between public bodies and electoral registration authorities (local authorities) to maintain accuracy and comprehensiveness
In addition, the Government is considering:
- Allowing provisional registration for 16-17 year olds, with registration automatically becoming active on someone’s 18th birthday
- Specific registration provision for people with no fixed address (for example, people experiencing homelessness), to ensure a standard procedure across the country
- Provision for anonymous registration for people whose safety may be at risk if their details are public on the register (for example, where court-ordered protections exist)
- Removal of provision for the edited register. Edited registers are used infrequently but may no longer be an appropriate use of data connected with the electoral register.
The Government believes that these proposals, if implemented, would result in:
- Registration in a way that works for everyone – online or on paper
- A clear and simple process – one form, one process, one register – all year round
- A single, secure database to enable cross-local authority checks while protecting data
- Balancing security and ease of access to protect the integrity of our registration process
- Building an electoral register that is secure, comprehensive and accurate
- Data sharing in the future – subject to clear standards, limits and safeguards
Minister Phelan said: “Reducing the number of different registration forms; allowing people to register online; and introducing a process of continuous or rolling registration would make the registration process much more user-friendly and similar to the way people interact with other State services. These changes reflect changes in how we live today.”
On the public consultation process the Minister said: “Public confidence in any reform of the electoral registration process is paramount as the system affects all of us. The outcome of this consultation process will inform the development of detailed proposals for implementation. That is why I encourage everyone to consider these proposals and have their say.”
People can read the proposals at www.registerreform.gov.ie. They can make a submission by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to:
Electoral Registration Project Consultation, Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Custom House, Dublin 1, D01 W6X0
They can also request print copies of the proposals by emailing the address above.
The deadline for sending in a submission is 15 March 2018.
All submissions (including names) will be published on the website of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (www.housing.gov.ie). All submissions are also subject to Freedom of Information requests.