Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government
Question 445: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his plans to introduce legislation that will permit Irish citizens, who were resident in this country until recently and who have emigrated, to vote in general elections and referenda as citizens of many other countries in Europe are entitled to do; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9250/12]
In order to be able to vote at elections and referendums in this jurisdiction, a person's name must be entered in the register of electors for a constituency in the State in which the person ordinarily resides. Postal voting is provided for in electoral law in respect of certain categories of persons who are entered in the register of electors but who may find themselves abroad at the time, including members of the Defence Forces and Irish diplomats. The Programme for Government sets out a comprehensive range of constitutional reform measures including the review by a Constitutional Convention of the Dáil electoral system and giving citizens the right to vote at Irish embassies in presidential elections. I will bring forward proposals for change to electoral law in light of the decisions for change which may arise from these processes.
Question 446: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to introduce legislation that will permit college students to vote in their local constituencies without having to return home to cast their votes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9253/12]
Electoral legislation currently provides a choice for students.
Under section 63 of the Electoral Act 1997, students attending an educational institute in the State on a full time basis who are registered to vote but cannot attend at their designated polling station on polling day are eligible to apply for entry onto the postal voters list. Students exercising this option can continue to vote in the constituency where they are ordinarily resident. Under section 6 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001 a person who is on the register of electors and moves residence from one Dáil constituency to another can apply for entry to the supplement at their new address provided they have notified the registration authority to delete their name from the register in respect of their previous address. Students exercising this option can vote in the constituency in which they are ordinarily resident for the period of their studies.