There are no plans to introduce mandatory identification for voters at polling stations, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government has told councillors in Kerry where there has been disquiet over the registration and identification of voters.
Separately, GSOC, the Garda Ombudsman, is conducting “a public interest investigation” into allegations centring on voter registration in the supplementary register, in advance of the last local elections in Kerry in May.
The central allegation is that bundles of new voter forms destined for the supplementary register were stamped in a garda station without the voters being present, as required.
Councillors in May spoke of other discrepancies in the electoral register with at least one councillor saying that dead people in his area were still on the register.
In May, they wrote to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris calling for a full investigation into the supplementary register allegations, centring on the Killarney electoral area. A preliminary investigation followed by a full garda investigation got underway in late May.
GSOC, which has taken over the full investigation, says it has not finalised its enquiries and will not comment further on the matter at this point.
The Department of Local Goverment at the time said plans were underway to modernise the electoral register, including an optional online registration process and the creation of a unique identifier for individuals as well as measures to improve the updating of the register.
The private secretary for Minister Eoghan Murphy has now also written to councillors in the Killarney Municipal District, referring to a resolution by Killarney councillors in March, that all voters be required to produce identification.
The Minister's secretary, Niamh Redmond, says producing identification is at the discretion of the presiding officer and this will remain the case: “Under Section 111 of Electoral Act 1992 a presiding officer may, at their own discretion, or if required by a personation agent, require a person attending to vote to produce identification.
While electoral legislation is continuously under review there are no plans at present to introduce the mandatory, production of identification at polling stations.
Killarney Councillor Brendan Cronin (Ind) who called for the garda investigation into the supplementary register allegations in May, seconded by Cllr Toireasa Ferris, Tralee, said he and other councillors await answers: “I am hoping this won’t be brushed under the carpet."