Thursday, 13 June 2019
Department of Defence
23. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if Defence Forces personnel entitled to postal voting in recent elections were all able to do so in time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24479/19]
30. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the changes he is planning to the process to distribute postal ballots to the Defence Forces to ensure that in future all members will receive a ballot in sufficient time to cast it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24583/19]
32. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the reason some members of the Defence Forces did not receive their postal ballots in time to vote in the recent local and European elections and referendum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24582/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 23, 30 and 32 together.
The Electoral Act 1992 establishes a postal voters list and those who qualify to be entered in the list. The Act provides that a whole time member of the Defence Forces shall be entered in the list. Having regard to the nature of military life, this entitlement ensures the right to vote for members of the Permanent Defence Force.
The Department of Defence provides a link between the Franchise Section of the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government and the military authorities. This is to ensure that appropriate timelines for postal voting are agreed.
The Register of Electors is prepared annually by the registration authorities, who prepare the Postal Voters List. The Defence Forces, through the Enlisted Personnel Management Office (EPMO), liaise with the registration authorities to ensure the list is up to date and correct.
The Defence Forces place a very high level of importance on ensuring that all personnel are provided with the opportunity to register for and to receive a postal vote.
To that end, personnel are provided with access to registration forms, through the chain of command. The commanding officers inform all ranks of the availability of the registration forms. A significant operation then takes place to ensure that those who are registered to vote, at home or overseas, are provided with postal votes, to enable them to exercise their right to vote.
Postal votes for Defence Forces personnel were processed and administered by the military authorities in the normal way for the 2019 local and European elections.
I am informed that a number of personnel have expressed concern that they did not receive a postal vote. These concerns are being examined by the military authorities in the context of a review of the operation of the postal voting system with a view to ensuring that processes and procedures are optimised. The review is expected to conclude shortly.
I expect the military authorities to take any necessary action on foot of their review to ensure the right of military personnel to exercise their right to vote.