In March 2017 the Government determined that work should commence on modernisation of the voter registration process. In addition to meeting the objective to modernise the registration process generally, the Government was also cognisant of the possible need to register voters resident outside the State in the event that a referendum on extending the franchise in Presidential elections is passed.
The modernisation project will include consideration of wider policy and legislative changes. There will be an initial focus on a series of proposals including those made by the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht in its report on the consultation it carried out on the proposed Electoral Commission in 2016. The proposals currently under consideration include an optional online registration process in parallel with the existing paper based system; the creation of a unique identifier for individuals; proportionate and measures to improve the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of changes to the register information, e.g. in respect of those that are deceased.
Conscious of the importance of the register and its role in our democracy and the need to ensure security and integrity are key priorities for any changes being considered, significant consultation has been underway to engage all stakeholders, including registration authorities, the political system at all levels and the public.
An initial technical consultation with franchise teams in local authorities was completed in September 2018 and the constructive inputs received informed the further development of proposals and consultation documents which informed the launch of a public consultation process on 17 December 2018 which offered an opportunity to all relevant stakeholders and the public to contribute. Following the closing date of 15 March 2019 for the public consultation process, some 180 submissions were received in my Department from a range of individuals, public representatives, local authorities, political parties and community and voluntary and business organisations.
Details of the consultation are available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/public-consultation-proposals-modernise-electoral-registration-process.
Following this consultation phase a report will be drafted, regarding the modernisation proposals and the feedback and responses from the consultation, with a view to progressing the next steps for implementing changes.