Stanley calls for establishment of an Electoral Commission in a transparent manner
Sinn Féin spokesperson on local government, Brian Stanley TD, has called for the establishment of an Electoral Commission to take charge of the electoral process in order to tackle issues related to the register, the holding of referendums, the layout of ballot papers, voting age, and access to polling booths for the disabled and elderly.
Speaking at a Committee hearing at which the Sinn Féin submission was one of several discussed, the Laois TD also expressed his view that the commission should be established as soon as possible in order to address these issues prior to the next general election. Any new commission to take over the role of the Boundary and Referendum Commissions and the SIPO need to be appointed in a transparent manner and not by a Government minister.
Deputy Stanley said:
“There is an urgent need to address issues related to the overall electoral system in this state. That is why we have called for, and support, the establishment of an Electoral Commission to address many of the outstanding issues regarding electoral reform, and some of the recommendations of the Constitutional Convention as referred to.
“It is clear that there are many such outstanding issues related to voting rights, including the extension of voting rights in elections to people aged 16. We would also like to see the extension of the right to vote in Presidential and Seanad elections in this state to Irish citizens living in the north, and to Irish citizens living in other countries.
“The Commission could also ensure the tightening up of the electoral register to make it more accurate and to eliminate the large number of people who should not be on it, and those who are on the register more than once. As part of this we would propose that PPS numbers are used to automatically register people once they reach the required age.
“Registration should be on an individual rather than household basis. Again that is something that PPS would address. The Commission could assist in programmes to encourage more young people to vote. It could also improve the lay-out of election and referendum ballot papers to make them more easily understood; provide better information regarding proposals put to referendums; improve access to polling stations for disabled people, and examine the option to hold elections at weekends."