Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (199)

Mick Barry

Question:

199. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his views on extending postal votes to those who on polling day are in the later stages of pregnancy or have recently given birth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2301/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Postal voting is provided for in electoral law in respect of a number of categories of electors, including:

- Irish diplomats serving abroad and their spouses/civil partners,

- whole-time members of the Defence Forces,

- members of An Garda Síochána,

- electors living at home who are unable to vote because of a physical illness or a physical disability,

- certain election staff employed at the poll outside the constituency where they reside,

- full-time students registered at their home who are living elsewhere while attending an educational institution in the State,

- prisoners, and

- electors whose occupation, service or employment makes it likely that they will be unable to vote in person at their local polling station on polling day.

The Programme for Government - Our Shared Future contains a commitment to establish an Electoral Commission and goes on to further commit to mandating the new Commission to examine the use of postal voting, with a view to expanding its provision.

The Government has approved the drafting of an Electoral Reform Bill and the circulation of the Bill's general scheme to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage for pre-legislative consideration. The general scheme includes provision for the establishment of a statutory Electoral Commission. The general scheme was circulated to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on 8 January 2021 and was published on my Department's website at

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/34cf6-general-scheme-of-the-electoral-reform-bill-2020/

Any reform of electoral law in regard to postal voting will have regard to the outcome of the work of the Electoral Commission.