Emigrants to have symbolic online ballot for election


IRISH EMIGRANTS will have the chance to cast a symbolic vote through a new website being launched today.

Ballotbox.ie will give Irish citizens abroad a chance to vote on a full list of constituencies and candidates using the proportional representation system.

Voting will be restricted to those living outside of Ireland using internet protocol and geoblocking technology. The site will also discourage multiple voting by using e-mail and SMS technology to identify voters. An estimated three million Irish passport-holders live abroad, while some 27,700 Irish citizens left the State in the 12 months to April 2010.

The website was set up by recent Irish emigrants to Canada and it is being run by volunteers based in Dublin.

Organisers want to highlight what they say is the disenfranchisement of Irish emigrants in contrast with those from other states that are allowed to vote, including the UK, US and most of the EU.

Co-founder and Toronto resident Brian Reynolds said he was meeting many Irish people in Canada who were keeping up to date with Irish current affairs and wanted to return home to vote.

“I felt this website would give an outlet to those who want to exercise their opinions. So many people who had apathy in the past actually want to make a statement,” he said.

These people were more “Irish citizens living abroad” than emigrants, Mr Reynolds said.

“Many of the Irish people living abroad want to decide the future of the country they hope to move back to,” he added.

Niall O’Dowd, founder of the American-based Irish Voice newspaper, welcomed the launch of the website.

Emigrants “have been deeply impacted in their life decisions by the policies Irish politicians and governments have pursued. They are entitled to make their views known too”, he said.

Voting on Ballotbox.ie will open for a week on February 15th. The results will be released shortly before polling day.