This amendment proposes to delete from voting papers the number on the back of the voting paper and the corresponding number on the counterfoil. I have no very strong views about the number on the counterfoil. The crucial matter is continuing to show a number on the back of the voting paper. That number can be connected with a voter and that proves that the secrecy of the ballot box is not absolute. The Minister has given us no indication as to what his views are on this and I am at a loss to know what purpose this number on the back of the ballot paper serves. Has there been any case before our courts in which this number was of vital importance? Has there been any discussion on any count or recount in which this number was used to good purpose? Has it helped to resolve a dispute with regard to an election?
I put down some questions to the Minister but they were disallowed by the Ceann Comhairle on the ground that this was a matter that could best be raised during the discussion on the Committee Stage of this Bill. Has the Minister any information as to whether this numbering system is used in other countries? The position in the USA is different. They have some kind of punching system.
In the Bill there is, in my view, a very inaccurate method of laying down what this numbering on the back of the ballot paper should be: it is provided that it should be in the smallest characters compatible with legibility.
The back of each ballot paper shall be numbered consecutively and the back of the counterfoil attached to it is to bear the same number. The number on the back of the ballot paper shall be printed in the smallest characters compatible with legibility.
Last week I produced a specimen of a ballot paper here. Not alone was there a number on it but the number was quite large. Anyone with average sight could read it from 20 feet away. There was also on the ballot paper the name of the constituency. There is no provision providing that the name of the constituency should appear on the ballot paper. This numbering on the back of ballot papers first appeared in 1923. Not content with numbering they then went on to stick in the name of the constituency. The provision has been deliberately flouted. I do not know to what extent it has been flouted, but it was certainly flouted in the case in Monaghan. There is a method of measuring type. It is a points system. You have six-point, eight-point, ten-point, 12-point; I do not know what the lowest point is. Surely in the drafting of the original provision the specific point should have been mentioned.