The Electoral Register Hokey-Cokey

When I was a small child, my grandmother used to entertain me and my siblings by getting us to sing and dance the hokey cokey, a playful little song and dance routine if ever there was one.

This dance was brought to mind yesterday when Fergal of the Tuppenceworth bloggers emailed me to let me know that he appears to have been taken off the Electoral Register in his home county. Again.

You put your right to self-determination and election of a government by proportional representation as mandated by the constititution of the Irish Republic in.
You put your right to self-determination and election of a government by proportional representation as mandated by the constititution of the Irish Republic out.
In. Out. In. Out.
And you shake it all about.

It would seem that Fergal had been taken off the Register during the Great Clean up of 2006. He then had his ballot reinstated. The other day, in a fit of electoral existentialism he decided to try and find himself on the Electoral Register website

Zen like, he found himself encountering the concept of nothing as a search for his name at his address revealed nothing. Oh Hokey Cokey Cokey indeed.

So what may have gone wrong here?

  • Is Fergal’s name transposed on the Register (surname first, firstname last)?
  • Is the address registered against Fergal on the Register different to his address?
  • Does the search function on the Electoral Register require an exact character match on names/addresses? Is “Fergal” interpreted as a different name to “Fearghal” (both Fergals in my book)?
  • If Fergal has indeed been deleted from the Register (again), what triggered the Hokey Cokey here? Was an old copy of the Register loaded to the website?
  • Is the version you search on-line up to date with the version you might find in your library or Garda Station? Might Fergal be on the Register, but just not on the Register that is searched? Might it work in the contrary… Might people be listed as ‘on the register’ in an on-line search but be off the Register in the ‘paper’ world (ie the version that counts on polling day)?

The list of potential root causes is (especially as I am speculating a bit) quite long. However this is further evidence that the processes for the management of the Electoral Register are a bit knackered. This has been accepted by the Government and the Oireachtas Committee on the Electoral Register recently published a series of recommendations which eerily echoed comments and recommendations made on this blog over 2 years ago.

However, while there is an urgent need to have as accurate an electoral register as possible (1 Referendum in our immediate future and Local Elections in the not to distant future), care must be taken to ensure we solve the problems of tomorrow as well as the problems of today.

But in the words of Tom Jones – “I think I’m gonna dance now”…

“Oh, hokey cokey cokey…. Oh hokey cokey cokey…..”

2 thoughts on “The Electoral Register Hokey-Cokey”

  1. Myself and my wife were removed from the Register for the last set of local elections. We went home from the polling booth, unfranchised. Oh well, I suppose it doesn’t make that much of a difference, we said.

    Our candidate subesequently lost by one vote.

  2. Oh. That is Hokey Cokey Cokey.

    Simon, I’m sure you’ve taken this as a lesson not to doubt the lessons of Saturday Morning TV… Knight Rider taught me that one man can make a difference, and apparently his missus can push it over the top into a victory.

    What upsets me at the moment is the crushing silence on this issue from the opposition, not least as many of the recommendations of the Dail committee were handed to Dick Roche (aka Zap Brannigan) 2 years ago by Eamon Gilmore (when he passed on my initial analysis of the situation to the then Minister).

    Oh hokey cokey cokey. ;(

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