Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher has branded the current system of postal voting in Ireland as outdated and archaic.
And unlike numerous other countries in Europe it does not currently permit voting for those who may be abroad on polling day on holidays, pilgrimage or work-related matters if you are employed by a company not ordinarily registered in the Irish state.
Similarity any Irish students who are attending English colleges are equally not entitled to a postal vote at present.
The Donegal TD said the Irish system of postal voting is far too restrictive and certainly does not cater for modern day living whereby individuals work abroad during the week and return home at weekends.
He said “It is also fair to state any postal system which does not accord the right to an individual who is on holidays the right to vote is both unfair and unjust. It is baffling how our system of postal voting has not changed with time and progress of modern day living.”
He added many other European countries allow for early voting for those who will be abroad on business, work-related matters or holidays and this would also apply to students.
“This is a matter which, I have brought up in the Dáil last year with the Minister, but, much to my own surprise he did not consider any alterations to the current system.
“I have again this week placed questions to the Minister in an attempt to get him to reconsider the current system and allow for the much-needed change in the postal voting criteria.
“In the forthcoming referendum hundreds if not thousands will be deprived of their voting rights because they happen to be abroad on their annual holiday, or work or studying, furthermore the proposed referendum day of the 25th of May coincides with the annual Raphoe Diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes.
“This alone will possibility deprive 300 people of their right to vote due to the narrow and out of date postal voting system we have at present in our country.”
He said that on many occasions, we hear about electoral reform but here is one tangible instance whereby no reform has occurred in over 30 years and no one can deny that our society has changed utterly in that time.
He demanded “I am calling on the Government to look actively at other voting models in our European partner countries and introduce the necessary change here in the Irish system.
“We need a system which reflects the realities of modern day living and a system which encourages the individual to exercise their franchise on polling day – and afford them the right to vote if they happen to be abroad due to holidays, work or study.
“In many countries across Europe you have early registered voting in a specific location, this allows you to vote two weeks in advance of polling day – nearly every European country allows their citizens the right to vote if they are abroad on holidays on the day of voting but unfortunately we do not here in Ireland, these are anomalies which can easily be corrected if there is sufficient goodwill on the part of the Government.
“No system of voting for absentee voters can stand the test of time for over 30 years without reform and that is the problem we currently have with the Irish postal voting system – it has been left unchanged for so long while all around us great change has occurred and continues to occur,” concluded Deputy Gallagher.Tags: