Fingal councillors at odds with Sheriff over ballot boxes

by Sylvia Pownall
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Fingal councillors have taken issue with the County Sheriff over his decision to take control of all local election ballot boxes and move them after they’re opened.

Members have expressed concern over the integrity and security of votes because the boxes will be opened in the RDS and then moved to City West Hotel in Saggart, where they will be tallied.

Ordinarily, the responsibility for the local elections lies with the council’s chief executive while the Sheriff oversees European and referendum ballots.

In the past, local election ballot boxes were sent to a local count centre while the others went to a central count centre for all of Dublin.

However, the Sheriff intends to have all boxes for both local and European elections across all four local authorities sent to the RDS where they will be opened and reconciled.

Raising the matter at the March monthly council meeting, Cllr Cathal Boland (Ind) said he had grave concerns over both the change of venue and the security of the votes.

He said: “Local elections are local, they should be counted in the county for which the election is held. The full election process 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.”

A number of councillors agreed with Fianna Fail’s Darragh Butler warning: “There are obvious concerns about the integrity of the ballot box.”

Fingal 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.

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