The chair of the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee, Fianna Fáil’s Séan Fleming has warned that people who registered to vote last September or October will not be registered to vote until February 15 and therefore will not have a vote if the general election is called for either February 7 or Valentine's Day.
The register of electors is officially updated every year on February 15, a date fixed in law (Electoral Act 1992, s.1).
Mr Fleming told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland that the disenfranchisement of the people could affect the outcome of the election in some constituencies.
“We’ve never had an election in mid February before. People who moved house or moved constituency and registered to vote won’t have a vote.”
However, he pointed out that there are a number of options to avoid disenfranchising these people – if the Taoiseach were to call the election for after February 15 or if a measure is passed in the Dáil on Wednesday.
The option of people registering on the supplementary register of electors has a short window of opportunity, he said because the election has not yet been officially called.
Mr Fleming cautioned local authorities who consider combining the draft register of electors with the supplementary register, pointing out that the form for the supplementary register has to be stamped by the Garda Siochana.
“That is a lacuna that needs to be clarified.”
Commenting on reports that a number of councils were considering that option, Mr Fleming said that while it was a common sense approach, it was not legal and required clarification.
There was no mechanism by which the two registers could be combined, he said. “I want nobody to be disenfranchised. If we go into a general election without this resolved, people won’t have a vote, that’s most unfair.