Concerns that thousands may be unable to vote in early February election

PAC chairman fears some voters will not be eligible if new register is not valid until February 15th

Concerns were expressed on Monday night that thousands of voters may not be eligible to vote if the general election takes place before February 15th.

Sean Fleming, Fianna Fáil chairman of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, expressed fears that the new electoral register may not become valid until February 15th and that this may disenfranchise thousands of people whose names are on a register that only has draft status.

Mr Fleming wants the Dáil to deal with the matter this week before its expected dissolution, to ensure all voters are on the register in time to vote in the election.

Speculation within Fine Gael suggests Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will dissolve the Dáil this week and call the election for either February 7th or 14th.

The Department of Housing and Local Government has urged people to check whether they are registered to vote by contacting their local authority and applying to have their name included on the supplementary register no later than 15 days before the election.

Potential disenfranchisement

Labour spokeswoman on housing and local government Jan O'Sullivan on Monday night called on Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to act without delay to address any potential disenfranchisement of thousands of voters if an election is called before February 15th.

Mr Murphy should clarify quickly whether a change in the law is required or whether a new register will be automatically put onto the supplementary register in every local authority, she said.

“While some local authorities may roll over these recent registrations to the supplement, there is no guarantee of that, and anyone wishing to join the supplement when an election is called can’t do so yet, and it is more cumbersome to register on the supplement,” said Ms O’Sullivan.

Solidarity TD for Dublin West Ruth Coppinger said on Twitter that she was told by Dublin City and Fingal councils that they would add new voters who registered for the new register to the supplementary register for an early February election.

She said it was important that all councils will take the same approach.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent