Early voting on Irish islands to be swept away in electoral reform

New plans before Cabinet will see around 2,000 islanders vote at same time as the rest of the country
Early voting on Irish islands to be swept away in electoral reform

Around 2,000 registered voters on 12 Irish islands currently go to the polls a day early but under new plans, islanders will vote at the same time as the rest of the country. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Early voting on the country's most remote islands is to be a thing of the past under legislation coming to Cabinet this week.

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien will bring the Electoral Reform Bill 2022 to Cabinet on Tuesday. That paves the way for a major overhaul of Ireland's electoral system, with the end of early voting on the islands among the proposals.

Currently around 2,000 registered voters on 12 islands off the Galway, Mayo, and Donegal coasts go to the polls a day early. This had been two to three days early up until 2014.

Under the plans being brought to Cabinet by Mr O'Brien, islanders will vote at the same time as the rest of the country, with provisions expected to be made in case of bad weather affecting delivery of boxes.

A spokesperson for Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann told the Irish Examiner that they broadly support the idea.

"This is something that we have followed for some time and we don't see why we have to vote ahead of the rest of the country. 

"We would be generally in favour on the premise that we would be able to then get all of the information, late debates or changing stories, ahead of casting our votes."

The bill also provides for the establishment of a new statutory, independent Electoral Commission to take on a range of electoral functions including a review of constituencies after each census, as well as bans on cryptocurrency donations and a tightening of the rules on foreign donations.

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