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15 2004

Electoral (Amendment) Act 2004

PART 4

Miscellaneous

Provision of detailed poll information.

30. —(1) The Minister may provide, by regulations, for the provision, after the conclusion of the counting of votes in an election or a referendum, of statistical information on a specified proportion of the poll concerned, including detailed information on the votes cast and comprised in that specified proportion.

(2) The content, format and extent of the information which may be provided pursuant to those regulations shall be such that the secrecy of the ballot is preserved.

(3) Subject to subsection (2), regulations under this section shall provide for the means by which the information concerned is provided to persons (and the means so provided shall include provision for publication, in a specified manner, of the information to members of the public) and may provide for payment of a reasonable fee in respect of such provision (other than such provision by means of publication).

(4) Notwithstanding anything in regulations under this section, the returning officer or local returning officer concerned may decide not to allow for the provision of information referred to in subsection (1) in respect of any grouping of votes where he or she forms the opinion, whether by reason of the limited number of votes cast in an area or otherwise, that the provision of such detailed information in respect of that grouping of votes would infringe the secrecy of the ballot, and where he or she so decides that information shall, accordingly, not be provided in respect of that grouping of votes.

Amendment of section 88 of Electoral Act 1992.

31. —Section 88(2) of the Electoral Act 1992 is amended in paragraph (cc) (inserted by section 21(b) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001 ) by inserting after “for that purpose”, “and the purposes of Part 3 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001 ”.

Amendment of Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001.

32. The Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001 is amended—

(a) in section 35 by—

(i) deleting “, biometric, photonic” in the definition of “electronic”, and

(ii) inserting “recorded and” after “are” in the definition of “electronic voting system”,

(b) in section 36 by—

(i) in subsection (1), inserting after “Minister.” the following:

“In considering whether to approve such equipment the Minister shall have regard to any report or reports available to him or her with respect to the matter (being a report or reports prepared by a body or bodies which are accredited to or recognised by the European Co-operation for Accreditation) and shall be satisfied that the equipment enables a Dáil election to be conducted in accordance with the relevant enactments (in particular with regard to such matters as the integrity and confidentiality of the voting and vote counting processes).”,

(ii) inserting after subsection (1), the following:

“(1A) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), a voting machine shall not be approved under that subsection unless—

(a) it is designed so as to de-activate automatically, or be capable of being de-activated by an operator under the control of the presiding officer, between each vote cast by individual voters, and

(b) the control unit (or other appropriate device) of it is designed so as to indicate to the operator whether the machine is open for voting and the total number of votes cast and stored on the machine without, in either case, revealing individual preferences of the votes so cast and stored.

(1B) Without prejudice to subsection (4), the Minister may from time to time prepare and publish to returning officers guidelines concerning the steps to be taken by them and such other persons as are specified in the guidelines to ensure compliance by them with this Part generally and, in particular, the matters specified in subsection (1) and section 41(4) or, as appropriate, section 10 (4) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2004.”,

and

(iii)  in subsection (2), inserting after “Minister may”, “, if he or she is of opinion that the public interest so requires,”,

(c) in section 38 by substituting the following subparagraphs for subparagraphs (ii) to (iv) of paragraph (ll):

“(ii)   for ‘obtained a ballot paper’ in subsection (1)(b) there were substituted ‘applied to vote’;

(iii)   there were deleted `(otherwise than under section 102)' in subsection (1)(b); and

(iv)   for ‘obtained a ballot paper’ in subsection (2) there were substituted ‘applied to vote’;”,

(d) in section 40 by substituting the following subsection for subsection (2):

“(2) If, for whatever reason, the voting machine concerned fails to produce the printed statement referred to in subsection (1), the information that would have been recorded in that statement, being information displayed on the voting machine's display screen, together with any other information specified by the form to be entered on it, shall be entered on a form directed by the Minister for the purposes of this subsection. The form shall be signed by the presiding officer and witnessed by an agent or other person in the polling station.”,

(e) in section 41 by substituting the following subsection for subsection (4):

“(4) Where an elector has failed to cast, in accordance with subsection (3), his or her vote and has left the polling station and the presiding officer, accordingly, has reason to believe that the voting machine concerned is still open, the presiding officer shall verify, remotely (by means of the control unit), whether that is the case and, if the machine is open, shall de-activate it. Where an elector fails to leave a voting machine within a reasonable time the provisions of section 106(1) of the Act of 1992 shall apply and where, in such circumstances, the voting machine is still open the presiding officer shall de-activate it.”,

(f) in section 42 by substituting the following subsection for subsection (5):

“(5) If, for whatever reason, the voting machine concerned fails to produce the printed statement referred to in subsection (2), the information that would have been recorded in that statement, being information displayed on the voting machine's display screen, together with any other information specified by the form to be entered on it, shall be entered on a form directed by the Minister for the purposes of this subsection. The form shall be signed by the presiding officer and witnessed by an agent or other person in the polling station.”,

and

(g) in section 43 by—

(i) in subsection (1), inserting after “staff,”, “not earlier than one hour”, and

(ii) substituting the following subsection for subsection (10):

“(10) If, for whatever reason, the voting machine concerned fails to produce the printed statement referred to in subsection (5) or (6), the information that would have been recorded in that statement, being information displayed on the voting machine's display screen, together with any other information specified by the form to be entered on it, shall be entered on a form directed by the Minister for the purposes of this subsection. The form shall be signed by the returning officer or a person authorised by him or her and witnessed by an agent or if no agent is present by another person present.”.

Amendment of Schedule to Electoral Act 1997.

33. —The Schedule to the Electoral Act 1997 (inserted by section 50(v) of the Act of 2001) is amended by deleting subparagraph (a) of paragraph 2.

Amendment of section 161 of Local Government Act 2001.

34. Section 161 of the Local Government Act 2001 is amended—

(a) in subsection (2), by substituting “Act, subject to the proviso that an order under subsection (1)(b) may be made before or after that day” for “Act”,

(b) in subsection (3), by substituting “Where, after the said ordinary day of retirement,” for “Where”, and

(c) by the deletion of subsection (4).

Unlawful possession of polling information card.

35. —(1) A person shall be guilty of an offence if the person, without lawful authority—

(a) takes, destroys, conceals or otherwise interferes with a polling information card, or

(b) presents such a card at a polling station,

which is not addressed to the person in accordance with section 92 of the Act of 1992, section 23 of the Act of 1994, Rule 54 of the Second Schedule to the Act of 1997 or Article 55 of the Regulations of 1995.

(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €3,500 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both, or

(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or both.