Thursday, 13 July 2017
Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
Electoral Commission Establishment
1257. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government his plans to collate or mandate a public body to collate voter turnout statistics by demographic, particularly by age, to improve voter accessibility and information. [33655/17]
1258. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the status of the establishment of an electoral commission; if he has a proposed timeline or target date for establishment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33656/17]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 1257 and 1258 together.
In 2015, on the basis of a consultation paper prepared by my Department, and at the invitation of the then Minister, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht undertook a public consultation process on the establishment of an electoral commission. The Committee published a report on the consultation in January 2016. This report contains a series of recommendations regarding the establishment of an electoral commission, including functions which should be assigned to it; independence, membership and accountability mechanisms; and the establishment process. In the report, voter turnout and voter education are identified as matters in need of attention. The Committee also recommended that the development and implementation of policy on voter facilitation measures and the development and implementation of innovative ways to enhance voter education and engagement (including obstacles to registration) be assigned as functions to the electoral commission. These, along with the other recommendations in the report, are informing the implementation of the commitment in A Programme for a Partnership Government on establishing an electoral commission, including the preparation of an Electoral Commission Bill to give effect to that commitment. My Department is in the first instance preparing a Regulatory Impact Analysis for the Bill. It is not possible at this early stage to provide a timeline for the establishment of the Commission.
I have no immediate plans to collate or mandate a public body to collate voter turnout statistics by demographic. These are matters that will be considered in the assignment of functions to the electoral commission in due course.