A referendum to extend voting rights in presidential elections to Irish citizens living outside the State will take place in the autumn. It was initially thought the referendum would take place in May but it will now take place on either October 25th or November 1st. A Government source said of the decision not to hold the referendum earlier: “We want to win this referendum but Brexit means our system is very focused on everything that a “no deal” or extension of article 50 could throw up. This referendum is going have high profile debate and will need a strong campaign so the decision has been taken for the autumn.” Later in the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed that Brexit contributed to the decision to delay the referendum. He said the poll would have been held along with the local and European elections.
Articles about voting issues in Ireland.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is facing an internal Fine Gael backlash over plans to extend voting rights in presidential elections to the diaspora. An increasing number of Fine Gael Cabinet ministers are understood to be opposed to extending voting rights to all Irish citizens over concerns about the impact it would have on elections. Agriculture Minister Michael Creed raised his objection to the referendum directly with the Taoiseach at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting. Other ministers who did not want to be named said they privately agreed with Mr Creed but did not speak up at the meeting. “It is a nonsense idea based on something Enda Kenny announced when he was on a visit to America,” a Cabinet minister said.
Ireland: Government fortifying IT systems for ‘fear of Russian interference’ in European elections | The Journal
The Irish government is in the process of upgrading its IT security across various departments ahead of the local and European elections for fear that they could be subject to outside interference. TheJournal.ie understands that sophisticated cyber security features were added to the internal infrastructure of many Government department’s systems in recent weeks. Late last year, the Government issued a report which identified the cyber related risks to the electoral process and made a number of recommendations to mitigate them. While the Government has not explicitly said that the upgrade is to protect elections, there is a serious fear that Russia may attempt to influence European elections, meaning Ireland could be compromised despite the small number of MEPs we have.
Ireland: 50,000 British living here set to lose vote in Euro election, says Mitchell | The Independent
Former MEP Gay Mitchell has warned that more than 50,000 British citizens living in Ireland are set to lose the right to vote in the European elections here following Brexit. Reciprocal voting arrangements for Irish and British citizens allow them to vote in general, local and European elections in each other’s countries. However, the former Fine Gael MEP has warned British citizens living here will lose the right to vote for MEPs after the UK leaves the EU. The next European Parliament election will be in May, less than two months after Brexit is due to happen at the end of March.
An online voter registration system to make voting more user friendly is being proposed by the Government. The new register would be anonymous and people would be identified only by a number in order to protect victims of domestic violence and stalking. “If somebody has a barring order for domestic violence against their husband or wife, we don’t want the electoral register to be accessible when it is a public document, that somebody can go on — or a stalker —and see where their potential victims are living,” said minister of state for local government and electoral reform, John Paul Phelan.
Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister, has received a timely boost after the opposition party that keeps his minority government in power pledged not to force an election because of the turmoil over Brexit. The move by Fianna Fáil will bolster Mr Varadkar in talks over a “backstop” on the Irish border, one of the most contentious elements of the EU withdrawal agreement that UK prime minister Theresa May is fighting to get through the British parliament. It underscores the depth of anxiety in Dublin about the threat of damage to the country’s economy and Northern Ireland’s peace settlement from a disorderly no-deal Brexit. Mrs May was forced to cancel emergency talks with Mr Varadkar planned for Wednesday as she battled a confidence motion from her own Conservative party.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Saturday he has no plans to call an election before Christmas and that uncertainty over Brexit must take precedence over the outcome of talks to extend an expiring government cooperation deal. Varadkar’s Fine Gael party and the main opposition group backing his minority government began talks on whether to renew their “confidence and supply” deal three weeks ago. His deputy leader said on Friday the agreement had a few more weeks to run. Varadkar insists that he wants to extend the pact until mid-2020, rather than capitalize on his Fine Gael party’s increased popularity by calling an immediate snap election.
A referendum on extending voting rights to Irish citizens overseas in Presidential elections is planned for May 24th, 2019, the same day as local and European Parliament elections, Senator Billy Lawless has said. Speaking at a meeting organised by the Votes for Irish Citizens Abroad (VICA) campaign in London, Mr Lawless said he had been assured by Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, that work was progressing on a Bill to be put before the people in a referendum, asking whether they agreed with extending the franchise to the Irish abroad. “The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney and Minister for the Diaspora, Ciaran Cannon are very committed to getting this referendum over the line. They will do everything he can to secure a Yes vote. So we have the Government’s support.”
About 130 countries and territories around the world have some system in place to allow their citizens to vote no matter where in the world they live, but Irish citizens lose their right if they have lived outside the State for more than 18 months. Those who fall within that time limit must travel back to their home constituency to cast their ballot, as there is no system in place for absentee voting except in very limited circumstances.
The proposed referendum will cover voting in Presidential elections only. It is not yet clear whether it will propose extending the vote to all Irish citizens living in the North and abroad, or limit it to Irish passport holders only, or those born in Ireland, perhaps with a time limit after emigrating.
Full Article: ‘Emigrants have been denied the vote for far too long’.
The Irish presidential election is to be held on Friday, 26 October, it has been confirmed. Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy confirmed the news this morning on RTÉ’s Today with Miriam O’Callaghan. In a statement, Murphy announced that he had made a Presidential Election Order, setting out key dates in the election process. The last date for receipt of a nomination is 26 September while the winner of the 26 October election will be inaugurated two weeks later on 11 November 2018. Murphy has appointed Barry Ryan as the Presidential Returning Officer.
A Presidential election is now a certainty after Sinn Fein this afternoon decided to field a candidate. The decision was made following a meeting of the party’s Ard Comhairle today. A candidate will be selected at a later date. The party has set up a committee, chaired by Waterford TD David Cullinane, to establish a process for selecting a candidate. This process is expected to be outlined in the next 10 days. A candidate will then be nominated in the coming months. Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said there has already been considerable interest from a number of potential candidates.
Ireland: Online voter registration system to deal with dead voters and multiple votes | The Irish Times
Online registration for voters is to be introduced, the Department of Local Government has said. The online system will use a “single identifier” which is most likely to be an individual’s Personal Public Service (PPS) number. It is expected to take two to three years to implement and will replace 23 different forms with one form for registration. The array of forms currently include change of address, the supplementary registration and various postal voting forms. Minister of State John Paul Phelan said the voter registration problem was the biggest issue that continually arose in elections and referendums; that “people are registered in multiple places because they’ve moved houses and also the continuation of people being on registers years after they’ve passed away”.
Ireland began voting on Friday in an abortion referendum that could be a milestone on a path of change in a country that, only two decades ago, was one of Europe’s most socially conservative. Polls suggest Irish voters are set to overturn one of the world’s strictest bans on terminations. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, in favour of change, has called the referendum a “once-in-a-generation” chance. Voters in the once deeply Catholic nation will be asked if they wish to scrap a prohibition that was enshrined in the constitution by referendum 35 year ago, and partly lifted in 2013 only for cases where the mother’s life is in danger.
Anti-abortion campaigners have sidestepped Google’s ban on online adverts relating to the referendum in Ireland on Friday, so as to promote their message on popular websites. This May the tech company banned paid messages relating to the referendum from appearing on its services, which dominates many aspects of online advertising. But campaigners have turned to alternative online ad sales platforms to push adverts to Irish readers of news sites. These sites have included the Atlantic, Washington Post and the Guardian, and ads have also been aimed at readers of women’s lifestyle websites and players of mobile games. Some of these ultimately use elements of Google technology to serve the adverts, despite the company’s commitment to pulling out of the referendum.
Ireland: Online ads restricted ahead of Ireland’s abortion vote amid concerns over social media influence | Associated Press
Ireland: As polls narrow before the abortion vote, is rural Ireland setting up a Brexit moment? | The Guardian
The polls have narrowed so much that a result once nearly taken for granted now hangs in the balance; the media are under fierce attack for bias; and questions are swirling about foreign influence and online ads. As Ireland heads into the last week of campaigning for its historic referendum on abortion, the long shadow of two recent surprise election results – the Brexit referendum across the Irish sea, and Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US presidential poll – is hanging over Irish voters. They will decide on Friday whether to repeal an amendment dating back to the 1980s that enshrined in the constitution a near-total ban on abortion. The controls are the strictest in any western democracy, meaning that the battle has been closely watched by anti-abortion activists across the world.
Google has banned all adverts relating to the Irish abortion referendum from its platform, amid fears of overseas organisations taking advantage of loopholes in campaign funding laws to target voters before polling day. The decision will mean an end to advertisements relating to the referendum appearing alongside Google results and on YouTube during the final fortnight of the campaign. “Following our update around election integrity efforts globally, we have decided to pause all ads related to the Irish referendum on the eighth amendment,” a spokesperson said.
There are far more than three billboards outside Roscommon, and their opposing messages indicate an intensifying battle for undecided voters in the historic referendum on abortion this month. On the roads into this quiet town in the middle of rural Ireland, it is impossible to miss the laminated placards fixed to lamp-posts. Some have one from each camp, vying for the attention of passersby in a polarised campaign in which voters have to make a binary choice between yes and no. A few hoardings have been torn down in the night, in a sign of strongly held beliefs. But mostly, the people of Roscommon are holding their views close, unwilling to discuss with each other – let alone a stranger – where they will place their cross on 25 May.
Tens of thousands of recent Irish emigrants could potentially legally vote during the referendum on the Eighth Amendment on Friday, May 25th. But, in an ironic turn of events, our voting system will only accommodate those with the means to travel. As founders of the We’re Coming Back and Get the Boat to Vote campaigns, we were both involved in organising the #Hometovote movement for the Marriage Equality referendum in 2015. Despite the public outpouring of support, and the welcome back for those who “voted with their feet” as Enda Kenny put it, absolutely nothing has been done since to facilitate an emigrant vote. Why? Under our electoral laws, Irish emigrants may fully retain their voting rights at home for a period of 18 months after leaving. Although the vast majority of citizens overseas have been out of the country for longer than a year and a half, those who have recently left – most of them too young to have voted in the 1983 referendum that brought in the Eighth Amendment, or even been alive to see it enacted – may yet have their say on May 25th.
A Canadian organisation is seeking to fundraise 7,000 Canadian dollars (€4,500) to send up to 24 independent electoral observers to Ireland for the referendum campaign to assess whether both sides “play fair” in the process. Non-governmental organisation SDAI-ADID says it is interested in “supporting and strengthening democracy through election observation” and that it wants to observe whether the electoral process adheres to “international standards of free, fair and transparent elections”.
Ireland will become the second country to trial a new tool that Facebook hopes will ensure greater transparency in political advertising, when it holds a referendum on abortion next month, the company’s vice president for global policy said on Tuesday. Facebook introduced the tool this month as part of steps to deter the kind of election meddling and online information warfare that U.S. authorities have accused Russia of pursuing, although Moscow has denied the allegations. The ‘view ads’ tool, which allows users to view all the ads a particular advertiser is running in that jurisdiction, has been successfully tested in Canada, Joel Kaplan said.