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Thousands of people who registered to vote may not be able to if election is held before 15 February

It has emerged that the updated register will not become valid until after Valentine’s Day.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE who registered to vote for an expected general election could be missing from the electoral register if the country goes to the polls by Valentine’s Day.

The problem has been highlighted after it emerged that the updated electoral register does not become valid each year until 15 February.

The issue could affect those who registered to vote in the last year, as well as those who changed the address their polling card is sent to. Both groups will currently appear on a draft electoral register.

The exact number of those currently on the draft register is not known, but it is believed to be in the thousands.

The issue has been raised by Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming, who has called for the government to remedy it by passing legislation to bring forward the date the register is updated – which will only be possible if the Dáil is not dissolved before it returns tomorrow.

“If the election happens before 15 February, those people who last September and October put their names on the draft register to come into effect this year will find they won’t have a vote…” he told Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1.

“It’s only and solely because of the date of the election. We’ve never had an election in the middle of February before, when the new register comes into effect.”

Meanwhile his party leader Micheál Martin said: “There was an onus on the Government to clear all that up before they named a date and I’m surprised that they let that situation develop.

“I think thousands of people should be facilitated, who are on the draft register, of being able to vote. We may even have the anomaly of people who voted in the local election but won’t be able to vote in the general election, which is very odd indeed.”

Fleming called on the government to pass a motion to update the register by 1 February, and cautioned against another proposal that individual local authorities could use their discretion to add those on their draft registers to the supplementary register.

He said that this may not be possible because of a legal process which requires gardaí to stamp a form to allow individuals to be placed on the supplementary register.

Members of the public have been urged to check  if they are registered to vote by contacting their local authority, and to request to be put on the supplementary register up to 15 days before the date of the election.

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