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Dublin: 11°C Monday 8 August 2022

Irish people are split over whether we should have another go at e-voting

Fewer than half of poll respondents thought it was a good idea.

A portable electronic polling booth in Dublin in 2002.
A portable electronic polling booth in Dublin in 2002.
Image: PA Images

PEOPLE ARE SPLIT over whether Ireland should scrap the current all-paper voting system and introduce electronic voting.

A Claire Byrne Live/ poll by Amarách Research has found that under half of people are in favour of a switch to e-voting and that a substantial number are opposed.

The question posed was: ‘Should Ireland abolish the current all-paper ballot system and introduce electronic voting?’.

46% of respondents said Yes to the questions while 41% said No, 13% of those surveyed answered Don’t Know.

The question has been raised in light the speed of counting in the European elections which is still incomplete after a full recount was ordered in Ireland South.

It’s been estimated that could also take up to 28 days because counters will not be working full-time, raising further questions about alternative ways of conducting elections.

E-voting machines were purchased by the State at a cost of €51 million in 2002 but were only ever used in three constituencies in that year’s general election – Dublin North, Dublin West and Meath – and the second referendum on the Nice Treaty later that year.

One suggestion that has been made is a combination of the two approaches whereby paper ballots are maintained but are counted electronically.

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One of the most widely used examples of are optical scan ballot systems where counting machines use scanning technologies to recognise votes cast by voters.

Last year however the government poured cold water on the suggestion that Ireland could again look at some form of e-voting.

Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform John Paul Phelan told reporters that there is no question of e-voting returning in the short, medium or long term.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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