At the March Monthly Meeting of Fingal County Council, members expressed their dissatisfaction with the proposal for the operation of the Local Election Count. This arises as, in addition to the Local election two other ballots will take place on the same day. The European Election and a Referendum. This is not the first-time multiple ballots were held on the same day. Voters in Balbriggan are particularly well used to the system as they’d have voted in European, Council and Town Council elections all on the same day and indeed would have had on some occasions the same candidates appear on more than one paper. How the system works is that a different colour paper is used for each ballot, which when completed, should be deposited into its colour coded ballot box. Of course, there is always the danger of a voter inadvertently putting the wrong colour ballot into the wrong box.
The management of the ballots fall under the control of two different authorities. The conduct for the Local Election is the responsibility of the Chief Executive of Fingal County Council while the Sheriff, who is appointed by the Government takes responsibility for the European and Referendum Ballots. In recent local elections these Ballot Boxes were sent from each Polling station to the local count centre, while the boxes for the other ballots went directly to a central count centre. In the event of an incorrect ballot paper being put into the wrong box they were transferred under escort to the appropriate count centre.
This year the Sheriff intends to take control of all ballot boxes at the end of polling day. It is his intention to have all the Boxes from across the four Dublin Local Councils brought to the RDS where the boxes will be opened and reconciled. At this point the Fingal Local Election Ballot Papers will be dispatched to City West Hotel in Saggart in South County Dublin for the actual election count.
Councillor Cathal Boland raised the issue of this proposal and was joined in his criticism by several other Councillors. Boland said: “Local Elections are LOCAL, they should be counted in the County for which the election is held. The full process of an election should be open to scrutiny. Large numbers of ballot papers shuttling across Dublin is unacceptable. A Local Election is about local people electing Local Councillors to represent their views. Fingal ballots should be counted in Fingal. This would allow local people to have a sense of ownership of the entire process”
The Mayor Cllr Anthony Lavin (FG) has now undertaken to write to the Sheriff stating the views of the Council and requesting that the decision be reversed.