Referendum information 'inadequate' - ICCL

Thu, Oct 27, 2011, 01:00

The information provided to voters in advance of the two referendums was “tardy and inadequate", the Irish Council for Civil Liberties said today.

It said the Referendum Commission booklet dropped through people’s letterboxes “less than a week before polling day” and that it omitted “some crucial information about the impact of the 30th amendment”.

It said “vital information” only made available on the commission’s website included the effect of the proposals on a person’s good name and their impact on the balance between rights and the public interest.

This information was “not readily accessible” to voters who didn’t consult the Referendum Commission’s website, or to those who did not have internet access.

In comments online and on radio, people expressed concern that the print was too small and that it was unclear which paper related to which amendment.

The wording of each amendment is not printed in full on the papers, which are instead numbered to denote they relate to either the 29th amendment on the judges’ pay issue, or the 30th amendment which relates to the Oireachtas inquiries.

A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said staff were on hand at all polling stations to assist people who had difficulty understanding the ballot papers.

Voters from various parts of the country expressed surprise at being asked in their polling station if they wanted all three ballot papers.

A spokeswoman for the Dublin City local returning officer said there was no directive with regard to such a question.

It could be seen as remiss of the officer at the polling station to assume the voter wanted all three or four ballot papers at once, or at all.

The number of stamped ballot papers handed out had to match the number recorded as taken from the ballot box when it was opened.

The spokeswoman said the question posed at some polling stations was “just a human response to a practical problem”.