Category: current
Updated: 24/05/18 : 06:37:22

Pro-Life groups obtained Sligo Electoral Register

Pro-life groups advocating for a No vote in the upcoming referendum obtained copies of the full Electoral Register with the names and addresses of voters in a number of counties across the country including Sligo.

An investigation by and news website openDemocracy has found that at least two pro-life groups have obtained copies of the register for a number of different local authorities across the country.

The Electoral Register contains the name and address of anyone registered to vote in a specific constituency, and is arranged by area.

Under electoral law, political parties and elected officials – as well as certain Approved Bodies – are allowed access to the register.

The Pro Life Campaign and Family & Life (which campaigns as Protect the 8th) have secured copies of the register in at least five electoral constituencies between them – meaning the names and addresses of thousands of voters. and openDemocracy have confirmed that the Pro-Life Campaign got copies of the register for Sligo, Kildare, Waterford and South Dublin County Council.

Meanwhile, Family & Life obtained copies of the register for Sligo, Waterford and Leitrim.

As well as this, two unnamed pro-life groups applied for copies in Longford.

Other local authorities either did not reveal who had applied for copies in their area, or did not respond to requests for comment.

The Electoral Register

In the event of a referendum, Approved Bodies with the Referendum Commission are able to apply for access to the full Electoral Register, which is not available to the general public in full.

Most (but not all) of the major campaigns advocating for either a Yes or No vote are registered as Approved Bodies. See link to Approved Bodies below.

Approved Bodies are allowed to appoint officials to attend the counting of ballots count day as well as appoint people on the day of the vote to ensure voter fraud isn’t taking place.

On top of this, they are legally permitted to apply to local authorities for one copy of the Electoral Register for each constituency for free.

Pro Life Campaign said, "Any use our canvassers have made of the electoral register is in full compliance with the law and similar to any other political party or campaign."

Repeated attempts were also made to contact Family & Life who failed to respond to multiple phone calls and emails.

Two groups campaigning for a Yes vote – Amnesty International Ireland and Rosa – said that they had not made efforts to access the register.

Data protection also contacted every local authority requesting information on which Approved Bodies have applied for copies of the register.

While a number of local authorities listed who had obtained a copy, others said they could not reveal who had, due to data protection laws.

Elected officials and campaigners as well as general election candidates and Approved Bodies are granted access to the full register for use in electoral purposes.

Other groups and people can pay a fee for a copy of the edited electoral register for use in marketing and other purposes.

People are able to opt out of being on the edited register, but are not able to remove themselves from the full register if they are registered to vote.

Political candidates use the register to target their canvassing efforts by area – to know how many voters are living in a household and improve their campaigning efforts.

It has been described as an “important campaigning tool” by one elected official.

Link:The list of Approved Bodies (as at 11 May 2018)