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Breathnach lambasts ‘shambolic and unacceptable’ voter registration anomaly

Polling Station
A banner points the way to an election polling station. Photo Credit: Rachael_H Flicker Creative Commons License.

Anyone unsure as to whether or not they are registered to vote in next month’s General Election should contact Louth County Council as soon as possible to guarantee they can cast a ballot on Saturday February 8.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed earlier on Tuesday that the General Election will take place in a little over three weeks time but the government have come under criticism as anyone who has registered to vote since last May’s Local Elections will not automatically be included on the electoral register.

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This is due to the fact that the register of electors is officially updated every year on February 15th, a date fixed in law due to the Electoral Act 1992. That is seven days after the upcoming Election takes place, meaning the electoral register used will be the outdated version used on Friday May 24 2019.

Anyone who registered to vote since will be on the register and will have to register again. These people would first have to apply to be on the supplementary register.

Fianna Fail TD Declan Breathnach, who is running again in county Louth having been first elected to the Dáil Éireann in 2016, has described the unusual scenario as “a shambles”.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, before the Dáil was dissolved and the  Taoiseach’s date announcement, the Knockbridge based Deputy said it was an “unacceptable situation that thousands of people who registered to vote months ago in the hope of voting in the upcoming General Election will not be on the electoral register.

“They will have to register again, via the supplementary register. However, seeing as the Taoiseach has not officially called the election, the supplementary register cannot be applied for yet.”

“In the absence of clarity, I have heard some Local Authorities may add new voters who registered for the 2020/21 register onto the supplementary register for an early February election. I hope all Local Authorities take this approach and I encourage people to contact the Franchise section of Louth County Council and Meath County Council if they are unsure if they are registered.”

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy appeared to shrug off any criticism of the government’s selected election date meaning new voters would have to register again.

“It is up to each of us as individuals to ensure we are correctly registered to vote and the best way to do that is to check directly with the relevant local authority. However, the crucial point today is that there is still time to register to vote in this General Election,” he said.

People are advised to check http://checktheregister.ie/ or with their local authority to see whether they are included in the 2019/2020 electoral register. If their details are included, no further action is necessary.

If not, people must next check if their details are included in the supplement to the register of electors. If their details are included in the supplement to the register of electors, again no further action is required.

If details are not on the electoral register or the supplement, people can download an application form from http://checktheregister.ie/ or in-person at the county council offices. After filling out the form, it must be stamped and signed in the presence of a garda officer at a Garda Station.

Forms must then be returned and reach the local authority on or before close of business on January 22 2020 in order for people to be registered for this election. People must call to the local authority to register, or send by post.

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