‘Dead people do not vote’
Alarming numbers of deceased people are still registered to vote in Cork county with some remaining on the register for up to 12 years after they have died.
That’s according to Fine Gael Cllr for Kanturk and Mallow Liam Madden who has called for an urgent reform of the current voting registration system.
Speaking at a recent meeting of Cork County Council, Cllr Madden said the Electoral Reform Bill, published in January of this year, touches on the issue but asked why we are still seeing dead people on registers today.
He said the issue leads to inaccurate figures when calculating what percentage of registered voters have voted in a given election.
Supporting the call for reform was Fianna Fáil Cllr Ian Doyle who said it would require a “huge job” from both the council and councillors alike to bring the register up to date.
“Over the last two local elections and a general election when we were going around door to door, it jumps out at you how inaccurate and not up to date that register is,” said Cllr Doyle.
He said there is “nothing more hurtful” than people with deceased family members receiving voting cards and other literature for their lost loved ones.
However, Fianna Fáil Cllr for Fermoy Frank O’Flynn was not especially concerned with the issue of dead voters still being registered, instead suggesting the council turn its attention to people who are not registered to vote at all.
“I wouldn't worry too much about those because we all know that dead people do not vote. I worry about the people who are not on the register,” said the councillor.
Cllr O’Flynn said when every child turns 18 they should automatically be transferred to the register with an option to opt out if they so choose.
“People in this country gave their lives for the importance of having a vote. Ease of access to the register is the most important thing,” said Cllr O’Flynn.
On 8 January, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, and the Minister of State with Responsibility for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, published the General Scheme of the Electoral Reform Bill.
The bill sets out to provide for a range of significant electoral reforms including the establishment of a statutory, independent Electoral Commission, as well as the modernisation of Ireland’s electoral registration process.
The bill is now subject to the usual legislative process and must go through several distinct stages in each house of the Oireachtas before it can be enacted in law.