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Dublin: 14°C Wednesday 10 August 2022

A referendum to allow TDs to vote remotely is looking likely

Would you support the referendum?

Image: Instagram/Oireachtas

A REFERENDUM ON allowing TDs and Senators to vote remotely has moved closer as the government confirmed it will be supporting a bill by one of its own TDs. 

Article 15.11 of the constitution provides that “all questions in each House shall, save as otherwise provided by this Constitution, be determined by a majority of the votes of the members present and voting other than the Chairman or presiding member”.

In effect, it means that TDs and Senators must be present in the building to cast votes in the Dáil and Seanad. 

The rule meant that deputies and senators could not vote remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic and has also caused issues for TDs taking maternity or paternity leave. 

A Private Members’ Bill from Fine Gael’s Jennifer Carroll MacNeill TD aims to amend the Constitution to allow remote voting to happen.

The 39th Amendment of the Constitution (Remote Parliamentary Voting) Bill 2020 goes before the Dáil on Thursday and the government has said it will not be opposing it. 

The bill would amend the Constitution with the insertion of a new subsection 4 which states:

Each House may make its own rules and Standing Orders providing for special and limited circumstances in which members of the House concerned, who are not present in that House, may vote when any matter or any class of matter as so provided for, is to be determined by a vote of that House.

MacNeill has argued that, as well as assisting with circumstances above, the constitutional change would also allow members who are ill or immunocompromised to continue to participate in parliamentary proceedings.

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If MacNeill’s bill is passed in both the Dáil and the Seanad it must be put to a referendum. 

If the referendum is passed, then the rules of the Dáil and the Seanad can be changed to allow for remote voting.

Poll: Would you support a referendum to allow TDs vote remotely?

Poll Results:

No (2219)
Yes (775)
Don't know (144)

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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