VOTERS WILL USE redesigned ballot papers at the next Dáil general election following a government decision today.
Th cabinet this morning agreed to a proposal from Environment Minister Alan Kelly to make the papers more user-friendly.
The main change is to move the space for including the emblem of the political party from the left-hand side of the ballot paper and place it beside the candidate photograph on the right of the paper.
This is a sample of the proposed new ballot paper:
This means there will no longer be empty boxes on the left-hand side of the ballot paper for independent and non-party candidates.
In the past some voters have inadvertently put their preferences in these boxes and thus invalidated their ballot paper. Kelly said:
The revised form of the ballot paper should help voters to avoid misplacing voting preferences and it should be more user friendly for voters with visual and literacy difficulties
This is the old ballot paper which some voters had trouble with:
These changes will be introduced through an amendment to the Electoral Amendment Bill 2015. The debate on the bill is expected to commence before the end of this month and continue into November.
Kelly added: “I hope that the changes proposed will receive the support of all members of the Oireachtas and I look forward to the new format of the ballot paper being used at the next general election.”
No changes to spending limits or expenses
The government also agreed today to make no changes to the limits for election spending and reimbursement of expenses ahead of the general election.
These amounts were last increased in 2007 and, by law, the minister of the day can alter them in line with inflation. Despite inflation increasing by 5% since 2007, this is considered relatively small.
Currently under the Electoral Act 1997, a Dáil candidate is limited in the amount that can be spent between the time the Dáil is dissolved and an election called and polling day.
- In a three-seat constituency the limit is €30,150
- In four-seat constituency the limit is €37,650
- In a five-seat constituency the limit is €45,200
The amount of election expenses which may be reimbursed to a Dáil candidate is the actual expenses or a maximum of €8,700.
However, a candidate can only recoup this money if they are elected or get enough support to exceed a quarter of the quota during any point in the count.
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