Drew Harris must conduct 'immediate' investigation into allegations surrounding electoral register

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is being urged to conduct an “immediate” and full investigation into allegations surrounding registration forms for the supplementary electoral register in County Kerry.

Gardaí said last week that their “preliminary enquiries” centred on voter registration forms in Kerry.

Investigators are looking at whether a large number of forms, involving up to 200 additional voters, or voters who were changing address, out of around 3,000 on the supplementary register of electors due to be published were stamped by a garda without the presence of the voters as required.

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has said proposals to modernise the electoral register currently under consideration include an optional online registration process in parallel with the existing paper-based system and the creation of a unique identifier for individuals.

The matter was raised at the meeting of Kerry County Council.

Independent councillor Brendan Cronin of the Killarney Municipal District (MD) called on the council to write to Commissioner Harris.

He said there were serious legal issues regarding the validity of the supplementary register of voters in the Killarney MD and, in the event of a few votes separating candidates, it “is wide open to legal challenge”.

He said a full investigation was needed to be carried out as a matter of urgency.

The chief executive of Kerry County Council, Moira Murrell said:

An Garda Síochana have issued their statement that they do not have a formal complaint but they are carrying out a preliminary enquiry.

She said the council had met with gardai and provided them with the information sought. The council would continue to co-operate 100%, but any investigation was for the gardaí, the chief executive stressed.

The register is updated each February and a supplementary register to allow people who had no vote and might wish to do so comes into effect when there is a referendum.

Reasons for inclusion in the supplement to the register include changes of address, registration of new citizens, or first-time registration of young people who have just turned 18.

The supplementary registration of a voter using the form RFA2 has to be witnessed by a garda and the form has to have the garda station stamp.

A person who has moved within the County between Local Electoral Areas may apply to be entered in the Supplement to the Register of Electors for the Local Electoral Area in which they are now resident. This RFA 3 form also needs to be witnessed at Garda Station in the presence of the voter.

The duty of the council in updating the register is simply to check whether the new applicant is already on the register, and also if the form is properly filled out and stamped by a garda. It is the garda role to check the identity and verify the identity of the voter and as such any irregularity is a matter for the garda.

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