Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Questions (172)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

174 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the criteria in use for the awarding of presiding officer and personation agent positions; if he will consider applying a points based system which would afford unemployed and low income earners to avail of these positions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32628/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government)

The primary role of my Department in electoral matters is to provide an appropriate policy and legislative framework for a modern and efficient electoral system. Within that framework, local returning officers are responsible for all matters in connection with the actual conduct of elections and referendums, including the selection, appointment and training of polling station and count staff in accordance with the relevant provisions of electoral law.

To assist returning officers, my Department issues guidance to them in advance of each election and referendum. The guidance emphasises that the smooth conduct of polls is dependent on maintaining a cadre of sufficiently skilled and experienced people. Having regard to that overall objective, returning officers are advised to employ competent and efficient persons as polling staff and asked to give consideration, where possible, to employing suitable persons who are unemployed.

Responsibility for the appointment of personation agents at an election is a matter for each candidate or his or her election agent. Under the Electoral Act 1992, a candidate or his or her election agent at an election shall, not later than 2 days (disregarding any excluded day) before polling day, give written notice to the returning officer of the name and address of every personation agent appointed by the candidate or his or her agent together with the name of the polling station for which the personation agent is appointed.