Wednesday, 14 July 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
Postal voting is provided for in electoral law in respect of a number of categories of electors, including: -
- Irish diplomats serving abroad and their spouses/civil partners,
- whole-time members of the Defence Forces,
- members of An Garda Síochána,
- electors living at home who are unable to vote because of a physical illness or a physical disability,
- certain election staff employed at the poll outside the constituency where they reside,
- full-time students registered at their home who are living elsewhere while attending an educational institution in the State,
- prisoners, and
- electors whose occupation, service or employment makes it likely that they will be unable to vote in person at their local polling station on polling day.
The Programme for Government - Our Shared Future – contains a commitment to establish an Electoral Commission. In this regard the General Scheme of an Electoral Reform Bill, was approved by Government in December 2020 and inter alia provides for the establishment of the commission. The General Scheme was published in January 2021 and is available on my Department's website at the following link www.gov.ie/en/publication/34cf6-general-scheme-of-the-electoral-reform-bill-2020/. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage is currently carrying out pre-legislative scrutiny on the General Scheme.
The Government recently approved proposals, for inclusion in the Electoral Reform Bill, which will ensure that voters with any illness or disability (physical or mental) will have equal access to postal and special voting arrangements.
The Programme for Government also commits to mandating the new Electoral Commission to examine the use of postal voting, with a view to expanding its provision. Any reform of electoral law concerning postal voting generally will have regard to the outcome of this work.