25 September 2023

IRELAND: Voters to need PS Card to cast ballot

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Irish voters may have to produce the controversial Public Service Card or their Personal Public Service (PPS) number to vote in the next election.

New laws being drafted by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government are aimed at cleaning up the electoral register and reducing the risk of election fraud.

The Department receives complaints after most General Elections about voting cards being sent to homes where the named voter is no longer a resident.

The new system would require every voter to produce a unique number or identification at a polling station.

Government sources said asking voters to produce a PPS number or Public Service Card was the most efficient way of ensuring the register of the electorate was as accurate as possible.

The sources said the voters’ PPS numbers or Public Service Card identifiers would not be retained or published.

They noted that in the United States voters were required to produce their Social Security Number to vote in elections.

Minister for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan is expected to bring an electoral reform report to the Cabinet in the coming weeks.

In the majority of cases, all that is needed to vote in an Irish election is a polling card.

Voters are advised to bring identification, but in most cases are not asked to produce it at polling stations as long as they have the card.

Numerous forms of identification are accepted, ranging from a driver’s licence or passport to an employee identity card.

It is also acceptable to show a cheque book, a cheque card, a credit card, a birth certificate or a marriage certificate as long as they also have another document that confirmed their address in the constituency.

Local authorities are currently responsible for compiling the electoral register.

Concerns have been raised about the increase in government services requiring applicants to produce a Public Service Card.

The card is needed for a range of Government services from collecting social welfare payments and child benefits to the free travel for older people.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties said it was gravely concerned about the use of the Public Service Card for an increasing number of services, as it was a particularly intense interference with privacy rights.

Dublin, 11 June 2018

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