- Local elections - all permanent residents, irrespective of nationallity, are entitled to vote
- European elections - all permanent residents who are citizens of an EU country are entitled to vote
- Lisbon Treaty referendum - all permanent residents who are Irish citizens are entitled to vote.
In the last few years the electoral register has come in for a lot of stick. Each time a vote has been arranged there are stories of entire families, or indeed streets, having been struck off and people arriving at polling stations to discover they have been disenfranchised. There are also stories of people recieving multiple polling cards and even a case of the family dog ending up on the register.
So what is the easiest way to solve these problems? I would suggest looking to the people who know everything about everyone - the Revenue Commissioners. They have an easy way of knowing who ever person in the country is - the PPS number. Everyone born since 1971 has one, everyone who works has one, everyone on social welfare has one, the first thing emigrants do on arrival is apply for one. The Revenue are also among the first to know when you die and so could easily remove the deceased from the electoral register.
On the issue of elegibility to vote in various ballots I would make the following suggestions
- Lower the voting age to 12 for local elections and 15 for all others. Engagement is key to get younger people interesting in politics. By age 18 they're already disillusioned with the system. Also, we are making decisions that will impact heavily on the world in which today's teenagers will live, both environmental and NAMA. They should have a voice.
- Extend voting rights in General Elections to be the same as for local elections. The current situation is a taxation without representation for the tens of thousands of emigrants in the country.
- Do not extend the voting rights for Presidential elections to the diaspora as is currently being suggested. Representation without taxation is almost as bad as the reverse. If you want a say in how the country is run you should have the decency to live here.
- Radically overhaul the method for electing members to the Seanad. This is a complex issue that deserves a post all to itself.