Public to be consulted on modernisation of electoral register

Options for more accurate data on voters include use of PPS number

The Government has opened a three-month public consultation on what it says would be the most significant reform of the electoral registration process in 100 years: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times.

The Government has opened a three-month public consultation on what it says would be the most significant reform of the electoral registration process in 100 years: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times.

 

The Government has opened a three-month public consultation on what it says would be the most significant reform of the electoral registration process in 100 years.

It will examine the possibility, among other changes, of using PPS numbers to identify voters and sharing data between public bodies to automatically update people’s addresses on the electoral register.

John Paul Phelan, the Minister of State for local government and electoral reform, announced the consultation, saying it would be accompanied by a social media campaign and advertisements in national and regional media.

The project is expected to take two or three years to complete and is to examine the full range of policy, legislation and technology that might be used to modernise the process.

The consultation seeks views on improvements to the system of identity verification, including the possible use of PPS numbers as a unique identifier.

Consultation documents suggest this move would streamline the system by minimising the need to present documentation at a Garda station and also the potential for duplicate entries or erroneous amendments to the register.

Mr Phelan said the condition of the register had been an issue “for years” and he noted the PPS was “probably the most complete, publicly held database of people’s identity”.

There was no question of PPS numbers appearing on the register or being part of it but a person’s number would potentially be checked against the existing database of PPS numbers to see if they were already registered, he said.

Such a system would allow the 31 registers currently managed by local authorities to be brought together. The consultation will also examine optional online registration using the MyGovID system currently available to 2.7 million people who have a public services card.

However, the Government is proposing that a paper process would still be available to anyone who preferred to use it.

Proposals also include the introduction of a simplified electoral registration process, with a single form. Currently, there are more than 20 forms for registration on the electoral register.

Members of the public will also be asked their views on abolishing the “edited” version of the register, which may currently be used by marketing companies to target those who have opted to be on it.

Views are also being sought on the creation of a single “live” rolling electoral register which could be updated online at any time by individuals, with changes possible up to 14 days before polling day. This would abolish the current supplementary register arrangements.

The consultation is also seeking views on moving to individual registration, abolishing the household form that allows one person to add the details of everyone at an address onto the draft register.

“The current system has served us well and will continue to do so. However, the proposals on which we are asking people’s views today are aimed at enabling people to register in simpler yet secure ways,” Mr Phelan said.

“Public confidence in any reform of the electoral registration process is paramount as the system affects all of us. The outcome of this consultation process will inform the development of detailed proposals for implementation. That is why I encourage everyone to consider these proposals and have their say.”

Full details of the proposals are available at registerreform.gov.ie

Views may also be submitted, until March 15th, by email to registerreform@housing.gov.ie or by post to Electoral Registration Project Consultation, Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Custom House, Dublin.