An investigation had been sought by Finbarr Harrington, a Beara-based member of the council’s Public Participation Network. He had received complaints from people who were disenfranchised during the recent general election.
Mr Harrington said he had also received complaints from people in the West Cork area during the last local elections — including from a family of seven, who were all wiped off the register.
He furnished thewith the names of several people who complained to him about being denied a vote. When contacted, Noralene McGurn confirmed to this newspaper that her mother, Nora Crowley, had been told, when she arrived at the polling station, that she did not have a vote.
Ms McGurn said her mother had voted all her adult life. “Fifteen years ago, she was living in Ardgroom and had voted in Eyeries. There was never a problem. Then she moved to Castletownbere and had a vote since, again never a problem.
“I drove her to the polling station and when told she wasn’t on the register, she was fuming, and so was I,” Ms McGurn said.
Ms McGurn later contacted a county council official in Cork, who told her a letter had been sent to her mother, advising that she had been taken off the register, but her name would be put back on the electoral list if she contacted the local authority.
“She never got the letter, and I support the call for an investigation.”
Ann Marie Cronin’s daughter, Jennifer, went to great lengths to cast her vote. The 20-year-old UCC architectural student drove two hours, after finishing her studies, to get to her polling station in Castletownbere, only to be told she was not on the register. “This is incomprehensible, as she voted in the last local elections and in the referendum, and both times in Castletownbere. She was angry and embarrassed,” Mrs Cronin said.
The council said the draft register was published in November every year, and a national publicity campaign was undertaken to encourage people to check the register. “This can be done online, via www.checktheregister.ie, or by contacting the local franchise office,” it said. The live register comes into force on February 15, and is used at each election and referendum held in the succeeding 12 months.
When an election is called, and an elector’s circumstances have changed, they can apply to go on a supplementary register. The deadline for applications is 14 working days before polling day. Fifty-three field workers are employed annually to revise the register of electors.
“Due to rapid population growth, increased personal mobility, and other movements in areas, field workers often have great difficulty in sourcing accurate details for the register, hence... each individual should make an effort to check the accuracy of the register themselves,” the council said.