Fine Gael Cork South Central Senator, Jerry Buttimer, has called for the franchise to be extended so that voting is made more accessible for all people.
“It is time for the way in which we organise elections, and the way in which we allow people to vote, is changed.
“During the recently concluded election process in the USA, I observed the process in New Jersey in which the State extended the franchise to its citizens, allowing them to vote from home using a new website, www.njvotefromhome.com. I appreciate the difficulty we have had with electronic voting and the lack of accountability and transparency it presents, and have no wish for the Minister Gormley to return to the excesses of that matter. However, the option of allowing citizens, who are unable to make it to a polling station on polling day, to vote from home by way of a postal ballot should be explored.
“The number of people in Cork City who do not live, work or study in close proximity to where they are registered and who are forced to return to their homes in Munster, or further afield for that matter, to vote is considerable.
“Equally, there are people who are deprived of their vote because of holiday or travel commitments. On June 5th last, a substantial number of people from the diocese of Cork and Ross were on a pilgrimage to Lourdes and so could not vote in the local elections. These people, predominately in the age category of 50+ years, were disenfranchised on that occasion.
“We must consider a means of attracting people to vote and we must not be afraid of enticing participation. Consideration of absentee ballots must also be up for discussion, for Irish people who have either emigrated, work abroad or are on holiday. We need to make it easy for people and afford them the opportunity to vote.
“Furthermore, it is my firm belief that elections should be held on Sundays wherever possible. This would ensure that the majority of students would be available to vote and, as fewer people work on Sundays, it would suit an increased portion of the electorate. We need to look at all available options to facilitating people partaking in the democratic process. I urge the Minister to consider all possibilities to increasing participation in elections and, ultimately, democracy.”