Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Select Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

Electoral Reform Bill 2022: Committee Stage

Photo of Malcolm NoonanMalcolm Noonan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

While I accept the good intent behind this amendment, I do not propose to accept it. By way of information, I wish to point out some features of the Bill which relate to persons with disabilities. Section 67 empowers the commission to conduct ex-post reviews of the administration of electoral events. These are mandated to include a description of the assistance provided by presiding officers and returning officers to persons with disabilities under the Electoral Acts. This means that details of where and how assistance is provided are recorded for the first time. This provides an avenue for highlighting best practice and encouraging greater consistency across the country ,which is something we all want to achieve.

In addition, Part 3 of this Bill provides for the extension of flexible voting arrangements which are currently available to persons with physical illnesses or disabilities to persons with mental health difficulties through amendments to the Electoral Act 1992. In effect, this will mean that persons with mental health difficulties who are unable to attend a polling station on polling day can apply for a postal vote at the place where they are ordinarily resident or avail of the existing special voting facilities for people who are resident in nursing homes or similar facilities. As the electoral commission is being positioned in a regulatory space, it is important that it stands apart from involvement in the administration of elections. In that context, I ask the Deputy not to press the amendment.


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