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REFERENDUM ACT, 1942
Rules for Taking the Poll at a Referendum.
Functions of the Local Returning Officers.
Deputy local returning officer.
1.—(1) It shall be lawful for any local returning officer with the consent of the Minister to appoint a deputy local returning officer for the discharge of all or any particular part of the duties of such local returning officer, and accordingly in this Schedule the expression “local returning officer” includes, in relation to any duties for which a deputy local returning officer is so appointed, the deputy local returning officer so appointed.
(2) The provisions of section 4 of the Electoral (Revision of Constituencies) Act, 1935 (No. 5 of 1935), and of the Second Schedule to that Act in relation to assistant returning officers shall apply and have effect in relation to every referendum, and accordingly in this Schedule the expression “local returning officer”includes, in relation to any portion of a constituency in which an assistant returning officer is appointed or acts under the said provisions of the said Act, the assistant returning officer so appointed or acting.
Notice to local returning officers.
2.—As soon as practicable after the Minister has made an order appointing the polling day at a referendum, the referendum returning officer shall send to every local returning officer a copy of such order and a copy of the proposal which is the subject of such referendum.
Public notices of the taking of the referendum.
3.—(1) Every local returning officer shall, immediately upon receiving the copy of the said order from the referendum returning officer, give public notice in the prescribed form of—
(a) the taking of the referendum to which such order relates, and
(b) the proposal which is the subject of such referendum, and
(c) the post offices at which copies of the Bill containing such proposal may be inspected and purchased, and
(d) the date of the polling day at such referendum.
(2) Every local returning officer shall, as soon as may be after the publication of the said public notice, send a copy of that notice to the postmaster of the principal post office in each polling district in his constituency in an envelope or wrapper endorsed with the words “Notice of Referendum”, and every such envelope or wrapper so endorsed shall be forwarded and delivered free of charge by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs.
(3) Every postmaster to whom a copy of the said notice is so sent shall upon receipt thereof forthwith publish the same in the manner in which Post Office notices are usually published.
Availability of copies of the Bill at post offices.
4.—(1) The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs shall cause copies of the Bill containing the proposal which is the subject of the referendum to be made available for inspection and purchase by members of the public at such post offices throughout the State as shall be agreed upon between the said Minister and the Minister for Local Government and Public Health at all times at which such post offices are open from the third day after the date of the order appointing the polling day until the polling day.
(2) Any member of the public shall be entitled to inspect free of charge a copy of the said Bill at any post office at which it is made available for such inspection in pursuance of this rule during any time at which it is so made available, and also to purchase at any such post office and time a copy of the said Bill on paying therefor such sum (not exceeding six pence) as shall be fixed by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs.
Provision of polling stations.
5.—At every polling place the local returning officer shall provide a sufficient number of polling stations for the accommodation of the voters entitled to vote at such polling place, and shall distribute the polling stations amongst those voters in such manner as he thinks most convenient.
Provision of compartments.
6.—Every polling station shall be furnished with such number of compartments, in which the voters can mark their votes screened from observation, as the local returning officer thinks necessary, but at least one compartment shall be provided for every one hundred and fifty voters entitled to vote at such polling station.
Position of polling station.
7.—A separate room or separate booth may contain a separate polling station, or several polling stations may be constructed in the same room or booth.
Voting at polling station.
8.—No person shall be admitted to vote at any polling station, except the one allotted to him.
Notice of situation of polling stations.
9.—The local returning officer shall give public notice of the situation of all polling stations in his constituency, and the description of voters entitled to vote at each such station.
Local returning officer to provide materials, etc.
10.—The local returning officer shall provide at every polling station materials wherewith voters may mark their ballot papers, instruments for stamping the official mark on the ballot papers, and copies of the register of electors for the time being in force or such part thereof as contains the names of the voters allotted to vote at such station.
Secrecy of the official mark.
11.—The local returning officer shall keep the official mark secret.
Appointment of clerks to assist presiding officers.
12.—(1) The local returning officer may appoint, for each polling station, such and so many clerks as he shall think proper to assist the presiding officer at such polling station.
(2) A presiding officer may do, by the clerks appointed under this rule to assist him, any act which he is required or authorised by this Act to do, except ordering the arrest of any person or the exclusion or ejection of any person from the polling station.
Duties of presiding officers during the poll.
13.—Every presiding officer shall keep order at his polling station, shall regulate the number of voters to be admitted at a time, and shall exclude all other persons except his clerks, the personation agents (if any) appointed for his polling station, and the members of the Gárda Síochána on duty.
Undertaking for secrecy at the poll.
14.—Every local returning officer and every officer, clerk, personation agent, and other person who is permitted to be present in a polling station (otherwise than for the purpose of voting at the poll) shall, before the opening of the poll, sign an undertaking in the prescribed form to preserve the secrecy of the ballot.
15.—(1) Every ballot box shall be so constructed that, without the box being unlocked, the ballot papers can be introduced therein, but cannot be withdrawn therefrom.
(2) The presiding officer at each polling station, immediately before the commencement of the poll, shall show the ballot boxes empty to such persons, if any, as may then be present in such station, so that they may see that they are empty, and shall then lock each ballot box and place his seal upon it in such manner as to prevent its being opened without breaking such seal, and shall place it in his view for the receipt of ballot papers, and keep it so locked and sealed.
Method of voting.
16.—Immediately before a ballot paper is delivered to a voter it shall be marked on both sides with the official mark, either stamped or perforated, and the number, name, and description of the voter as stated in the copy of the register of electors shall be called out, and the number of such voter shall be marked on the counterfoil, and a mark shall be placed in the register against the number of the voter to denote that he has received a ballot paper, but without showing the particular ballot paper which he has received.
Method of voting continued.
17.—The voter, on receiving the ballot paper, shall forthwith proceed into one of the compartments in the polling station, and there mark his paper, and fold it up so as to conceal his vote, and shall then put his ballot paper, so folded up, into the ballot box; he shall vote without undue delay, and shall quit the polling station as soon as he has put his ballot paper into the ballot box.
18.—(1) If any voter satisfies the presiding officer that his sight is so impaired or he is otherwise so physically incapacitated or he is so illiterate that he is unable to vote without assistance, the presiding officer shall, in the presence of the personation agents (if any), cause the vote of such voter to be marked on a ballot paper in the manner directed by such voter and shall place the ballot paper so marked in the ballot box.
(2) A request made by a voter within four hours before the hour fixed for closing the poll to have his ballot paper marked for him under this rule may be refused by the presiding officer, if in his opinion, having regard to the number of voters then coming in to vote or likely to come in to vote before the close of the poll, his acceding to such request would interfere with the proper discharge of his duties or would unduly obstruct the voting of other voters.
(3) In carrying out the provisions of this rule, the presiding officer shall observe and comply with the following directions, that is to say:—
(a) the presiding officer shall ask the voter, “Which do you wish to do—to vote in favour of the proposal? or to vote against the proposal?”;
(b) the presiding officer shall then mark the ballot paper in accordance with the answer of the voter to the said question;
(c) where the voter fails to understand the import of the said question, the presiding officer shall read out to the voter the proposal as stated on the ballot paper and then ask the voter, “Do you approve of or do you object to that proposal becoming law?” and then mark the ballot paper in accordance with the answer of the voter;
(d) where the ballot paper enables the voter to vote in respect of two or more proposals, the presiding officer shall comply with the foregoing sub-paragraphs of this paragraph in respect of each of such proposals separately and successively;
(e) the presiding officer shall not accept, consider, or act upon any paper or document purporting to show the manner in which the voter desires to vote and shall not mark the ballot paper of the voter otherwise than after compliance and in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this paragraph of this rule.
19.—If a person, representing himself to be a particular person named on the register of electors, applies for a ballot paper after another person has voted as such person, the applicant shall, upon duly answering the questions and taking the oath or affirmation permitted by this Act to be asked of and to be administered to voters at the time of polling, be entitled to mark a ballot paper in the same manner as any other voter, but the ballot paper (in this Act called a tendered ballot paper) shall be of a colour differing from the other ballot papers, and instead of being put into the ballot box, shall be given to the presiding officer and endorsed by him with the name of the voter and his number in the register of electors, and set aside in a separate packet and shall not be counted by the returning officer, and the name of such voter and his number on the register shall be entered on the tendered votes list in the prescribed form.
Inadvertent destruction of ballot paper.
20.—A voter who has inadvertently dealt with his ballot paper in such manner that it cannot be conveniently used as a ballot paper, may, on delivering to the presiding officer the ballot paper so inadvertently dealt with and proving the fact of the inadvertence to the satisfaction of the presiding officer, obtain another ballot paper in the place of the ballot paper so delivered up (in this Act called a spoilt ballot paper), and the spoilt ballot paper shall be immediately cancelled.
Sealing and disposal of ballot boxes.
21.—(1) As soon as practicable after the close of the poll, the presiding officer at each polling station shall seal up with his own seal the ballot boxes used at the poll in that polling station so as to prevent the introduction of additional ballot papers.
(2) As soon as practicable after the close of the poll, the presiding officer at each polling station shall deliver the said ballot boxes, sealed up as directed by this rule, to the local returning officer who shall thereupon take charge of such ballot boxes.
Duty of presiding officer at close of poll.
22.—The presiding officer at each polling station, as soon as practicable after the close of the poll, shall make up into separate packets sealed with his own seal—
(a) the unused and spoilt ballot papers, placed together, and
(b) the tendered ballot papers, and
(c) the marked copies of the register of electors, and the counterfoils of the ballot papers, and
(d) the tendered votes list,
and shall deliver all such packets to the local returning officer.
Statement by presiding officer.
23.—The packets mentioned in the next preceding rule shall be accompanied by a statement in the prescribed form made by the presiding officer, showing the number of ballot papers entrusted to him, and accounting for them under the heads of (a) ballot papers in the ballot boxes, (b) unused ballot papers, (c) spoilt ballot papers, and (d) tendered ballot papers, which statement is in this Act referred to as the ballot paper account.
Opening of the ballot boxes.
24.—As soon as practicable after the close of the poll in a constituency, the local returning officer for that constituency shall open each ballot box used at the poll in that constituency, take out the ballot papers therein, count and record the number thereof, and then mix together the whole of the ballot papers contained in the said ballot boxes.
Counting of the votes.
25.—(1) When the local returning officer has mixed the ballot papers together, he shall count the votes recorded thereon and ascertain the number of votes thereby given in favour of the proposal which is the subject of the referendum and the number of votes thereby given against that proposal and shall record the said numbers respectively.
(2) Where the ballot papers relate to two or more referenda, the local returning officer shall count and record in accordance with this rule separately the numbers of votes recorded on such ballot papers in favour of and against the several proposals which are the respective subjects of such referenda.
(3) While carrying out the foregoing provisions of this rule, the local returning officer shall reject any ballot papers which are invalid but, where the ballot papers relate to two or more referenda, he shall distinguish between ballot papers which are wholly invalid and ballot papers which are invalid only in respect of one or some but not all of such referenda.
(4) The decision of the local returning officer as to the validity or invalidity of any ballot paper shall be final and capable of being questioned only by a referendum petition.
Recounting of the votes.
26.—(1) At any time during the counting of the votes, the local returning officer may and, if so required by any person lawfully present, shall recount the votes recorded on all the ballot papers or on any particular parcel of ballot papers.
(2) If, on any first recount under this rule, the result of such recount is the same as the result of the original count, the local returning officer shall not be obliged to make any further recount, but if, on such first recount, the result of such recount is different from the result of the original count, the local returning officer shall repeat the recount until the results of two consecutive such recounts are identical.
Report in respect of rejected ballot papers.
27.—(1) The local returning officer shall endorse “rejected” on any ballot paper which he rejects as invalid and, where such ballot paper relates to two or more referenda, shall add (as the case may require) either the word “wholly” or an indication of the referendum in respect of which it is rejected.
(2) The local returning officer shall report to the referendum returning officer the number of ballot papers rejected and not counted by him under the several heads following, that is to say:—
(a) want of official mark,
(b) writing or mark by which the voter could be identified,
(c) unmarked or void for uncertainty.
(3) Where the ballot papers relate to two or more referenda, the local returning officer shall in his said report distinguish between the ballot papers which he rejects as being wholly unmarked or void for uncertainty and those which he rejects as being unmarked or void for uncertainty in respect of one or some, but not all, of such referenda.
Precautions for preservation of secrecy.
28.—The local returning officer, while counting and arranging the ballot papers and recording the numbers thereof in pursuance of the preceding rules, shall keep the ballot papers with their faces upwards and shall take all proper precautions for preventing any person from seeing the numbers printed on the backs of such ballot papers.
Persons to be present at the opening of the ballot boxes and counting of the votes.
29.—(1) Each member of Dáil Eireann for the constituency and any member of Seanad Eireann may nominate two persons to be present on his behalf at the opening of the ballot boxes and counting of the votes; any such member may nominate himself as one of the persons so nominated by him.
(2) The local returning officer, his assistants and clerks, persons nominated as aforesaid by members of Dáil Eireann or of Seanad Eireann and no other person (except with the permission of the local returning officer) may be present at the opening of the ballot boxes and counting of the votes.
(3) The local returning officer and every clerk, assistant, and person who is permitted to be present at the opening of the ballot boxes or the counting of the votes shall, before the commencement of such opening, sign an undertaking in the prescribed form to preserve the secrecy of the ballot.
(4) Where the polling day at a constitutional referendum is also the polling day at a general election, the powers conferred by the foregoing provisions of this rule on a member of Dáil Eireann shall be exercisable by any person who was a member of Dáil Eireann immediately before the dissolution which occasioned such general election.
Continuity of proceedings on the opening of the ballot boxes and counting of the votes.
30.—(1) The local returning officer shall, so far as practicable, proceed continuously with the opening of the ballot boxes and counting of the votes, allowing only time for refreshment and excluding (except in so far as he may consider expedient) the hours between seven o'clock at night and nine o'clock on the succeeding morning.
(2) During the said excluded time, the local returning officer shall place the ballot papers and other documents relating to the poll under his own seal and shall otherwise take proper precautions for the security of such papers and documents.
Sending of report and documents to the referendum returning officer.
31.—When the local returning officer has completed the counting of the votes, he shall do the following things, that is to say:—
(a) send to the referendum returning officer a report in writing in the prescribed form stating the number of valid votes recorded in favour of the proposal, the number of valid votes recorded against the proposal, and such other matters as shall be prescribed;
(b) where the same day is the polling day at two or more referenda, the local returning officer shall send to the referendum returning officer a separate such report as aforesaid in respect of each such referendum;
(c) send to the referendum returning officer the following packets and statement in respect of postal voters, that is to say: the packet containing the declarations of identity which accompanied ballot papers duly accepted, and the packet containing rejected declarations of identity with the envelopes (if any) attached thereto, and the packet containing rejected ballot papers, and a statement, in the form directed by the Minister, showing the number of ballot papers sent to postal voters and giving, in regard to such ballot papers, the particulars required by the form;
(d) seal up in separate packets the counted ballot papers and the rejected ballot papers and (without opening the sealed packets containing respectively the tendered ballot papers, the marked copy of the register of electors, and the counterfoils) proceed to verify the ballot paper account given by each presiding officer by comparing it with the number of ballot papers recorded by him, the unused and spoilt ballot papers, and the tendered votes list and, after resealing each examined packet, prepare a report stating the result of such verification;
(e) send to the referendum returning officer all the packets (including sealed packets not opened), ballot paper accounts and tendered votes lists mentioned in the next preceding paragraph of this rule, and also the report prepared in pursuance of that paragraph, having previously endorsed on each such packet a description of its contents, an identification of the referendum to which they relate, and the name of his constituency.
Functions of the Referendum Returning Officer.
The provisional referendum certificate.
32.—(1) As soon as the referendum returning officer has received from every local returning officer the report of the numbers of the votes recorded in his constituency, the referendum returning officer shall prepare from such reports and shall sign the provisional referendum certificate in the prescribed form stating:—
(a) in the case of a constitutional referendum, the number of votes recorded in favour of the proposal which is the subject of the referendum, the number of votes recorded against such proposal, and whether a majority of the votes recorded at the referendum was or was not recorded in favour of such proposal;
(b) in the case of an ordinary referendum, the number of votes recorded in favour of the proposal which is the subject of the referendum, the number of votes recorded against such proposal, and, if the number of votes recorded against such proposal exceeds the number of votes recorded in favour of such proposal, the total number of Dáil electors on the register of electors for the time being in force, and whether the number of votes recorded against such proposal is or is not less than thirty-three and one-third per cent. of the said total number of Dáil electors, and in any case whether such proposal was or was not vetoed at such referendum;
(c) in every case, the number of votes reported by the local returning officers to have been recorded in each constituency in favour of the proposal which is the subject of the referendum and the number of votes similarly reported to have been recorded in each constituency against such proposal.
(2) As soon as may be after he has signed the provisional referendum certificate, the referendum returning officer shall publish in the Iris Oifigiúil a copy of that certificate together with a statement that such certificate will become final and incapable of being questioned when he is informed by the Master of the High Court either that no referendum petition has been duly presented in respect thereof or that every such petition so presented has become null and void.
(3) When a provisional referendum certificate has become final otherwise than by being confirmed by the High Court, the referendum returning officer shall endorse on such certificate a statement that it has so become final and shall send a copy thereof to the Taoiseach.
(4) When a provisional referendum certificate has been confirmed or is deemed to have been confirmed by the High Court and is returned to the referendum returning officer with a statement of the fact of such confirmation endorsed thereon in accordance with this Act, the referendum returning officer shall send a copy of such certificate to the Taoiseach.
Disposal of documents.
33.—(1) Subject to the provisions of the following paragraphs of this rule, the referendum returning officer shall retain all reports, documents, and packets sent to him by a local returning officer in respect of a referendum until the expiration of six months after the provisional referendum certificate in respect of such referendum has become final and shall then destroy all such reports, packets, and documents.
(2) Where the same day is the polling day at two or more referenda, the referendum returning officer shall, notwithstanding anything contained in the next preceding paragraph of this rule and subject to the provisions of the next following paragraph of this rule, retain all the reports, documents, and packets mentioned in the said next preceding paragraph which relate to any one or more of the said referenda until six months after the several provisional referendum certificates in respect of the said referenda respectively have all become final.
(3) The obligation to retain reports, documents, and packets imposed on the referendum returning officer by the preceding paragraphs of this rule is subject and without prejudice to the obligation imposed on him by this Act to produce and deliver such reports, documents, and packets to the High Court at the hearing of a referendum petition.
Non-inspection of counterfoils and counted ballot papers.
34.—Notwithstanding anything contained in the next preceding rule, no sealed packet of counterfoils shall at any time be opened and no counterfoil and no counted ballot paper shall at any time be inspected save under and in accordance with an order of the High Court under Part III of this Act.
Method of giving public notice.
35.—Where the referendum returning officer or a local returning officer is required or authorised by this Act to give any public notice, he shall, unless some other method is prescribed by this Act, give such notice by such advertisements, placards, handbills, or other means as he thinks best calculated to afford information to the voters.
Restrictions on persons to be employed by returning officers.
36.—No person shall be employed by the referendum returning officer or by a local returning officer who has been employed by any other person in or about the referendum or the taking of the poll.