Election 2020: Thousands must check if they are eligible to vote

Date of the general election creates uncertainty for recently registered voters

There is still time to register to vote for next month’s general election, Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy has said. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

There is still time to register to vote for next month’s general election, Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy has said. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Thousands of people who have registered to vote since the European and local elections will have to ring their local authorities to check that they are eligible to cast ballots in the general election.

Concern had been expressed that thousands of people might not be eligible to vote if the general election took place before February 15th, which is when the updated register for this year becomes valid.

Because the election is taking place before this date, it has now been confirmed that those people who believed they had registered will have to take further action.

While there have been suggestions that some councils can add the relevant voters on to the supplementary register, a source said many will not be able to do so and so further action will be needed.

Those who are not on last year’s register or the supplementary register have until the close of business on January 22nd to return the necessary forms to their local authority.

Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy insisted that there is still time to register to vote in next month’s election.

“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,” Mr Murphy said in a statement.

Those in doubt can also visit checktheregister.ie to see if their details are included on the 2019-2020 electoral register.

Voters whose details are not listed are advised to contact their local authority and to see if they are on the supplementary register of electors.

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Those not on the supplementary register are advised to download the relevant form from checktheregister.ie, or collect it from their local authority, and then bring it with photo ID to their local Garda station and have it signed in the presence of a member of the force, who will then stamp the form.

These forms must then be returned to the local authority on or before the close of business on January 22nd.

At a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the Government also approved draft legislation that aims to reform the electoral registration process. It is hoped that this legislation can resolve similar issues in the future, with a rolling register replacing the existing system.

The legislation proposes changes to the identity verification process as well as an online registration system, which will mean that most people will not have to go to a Garda station to have their form stamped.

“While I appreciate that this is of little comfort to those who may be inconvenienced in registering for this election, substantial progress has been made towards a modernised process . . .” Mr Murphy said.