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Electoral Commission one step closer as government approves initial plan for regulator

An Electoral Commission has been on the cards for over a decade.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

THE GOVERNMENT HAS approved initial legislation that will lead to the creation of an Electoral Commission for Ireland. 

The Fine Gael-led government gave a green light to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to begin work on the development of a commission in July. 

Today, the government announced that it had approved the general scheme of the Electoral Commission bill. 

The approval brings the country one step closer to establishing a long-awaited Electoral Commission. It was back in 2006 that the Commission on Electoral Voting recommended the creation of such a body, while Enda Kenny’s government also promised to create a commission. 

In January 2016, an Oireachtas committee also published a report into the setting up of an Electoral Commission. 

“Electoral commissions are a feature of international electoral best practice, and our Electoral Commission will bring a more cohesive approach to the management of a wide range of electoral processes in Ireland,” housing minister Murphy said. 

The new commission, once created, will take control of a range of areas including solving problems with the electoral register, the setting up of referendum campaigns, as well as addressing the re-drawing of constituency and local area boundaries. 

While the new commission will be independent, it will be directly accountable to the Oireachtas.

It is expected that the members of the new commission will be chosen through a public selection process and will be formally appointed by the President. 

The commission will also have a role in considering electoral reform, while it will also be involved in voter education. 

The bill will now be referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government. 

On Friday, Murphy also announced that the voter registration system is also set for major reforms, with legislative proposals set to be brought before the Dáil in the new year. 

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