10 November 2023 – An Coimisiún Toghcháin, Ireland’s new independent electoral commission has published its first Draft Research Programme 2024-2026. An Coimisiún holds a new and significant research role in electoral policy and procedures, and has under its statutory remit the ability to make recommendations to the Government arising from this research.
One of the key objectives of An Coimisiún is that its research will be the product of a wide public debate and that it encourages public engagement and discussions about key issues of Ireland’s democracy and elections.
The Draft Research Programme 2024-2026, published today and opened for public consultation, identifies potential research topics across 5 strands:
A: Longitudinal survey research and data collection – including the development of Ireland’s first long-term National Election and Democracy Study (NEDS).
B: Electoral law, electoral systems and electoral infrastructure –including research on how the overall number of TDs is determined; the merits of potentially having constituencies of larger than five seats, and whether Constituency Review processes can be improved, including through the use of new technologies.
Also for consideration within this strand is research on postering for election events; reform of the Electoral Act 1997; the extension of postal voting; replacing by-elections with a list system, and residency requirements and voting, and the operation of the electoral register.
C: Integrity of electoral events – research into the conduct of Post Electoral Event Reviews which will assist An Coimisiún to work towards the enhancement and safeguarding of Ireland’s electoral processes.
D: Education, public engagement and inclusion –looking at the extension of the voting age which has stood at 18 years of age since 1973 and increasing democratic engagement including amongst under-reached groups, the diversity of candidates for elections and ways to increase this, increasing political participation and electoral turnout by people experiencing homelessness.
E: Blue sky/ curiosity-driven research –this strand provides an opportunity for researchers and the public to suggest original and innovative research topics falling outside more traditional themes.
People are now being asked to give their views on this draft research programme by January 12, 2024 via the online form, by email to email@example.com or by post to the Electoral Commission, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.
The Chairperson of An Coimisiún Toghcháin, Ms Justice Marie Baker stated:
“The research work conducted by An Coimisiún Toghcháin over the coming years will have the potential to markedly influence the course of electoral reform in this country, at a time in which many questions and challenges pertaining to elections and broader democracy are emerging.
“We want our research to trigger lively public debate around key aspects of Ireland’s democracy and elections to pinpoint what we can do better at home, and to be a global leader in our democratic processes and engagement.”
For further information, please contact:
Annmarie Power, Communications and Public Engagement Specialist,
An Coimisiún Toghcháin, The Electoral Commission,
firstname.lastname@example.org / 086 167 3060
An Coimisiún Toghcháin, The Electoral Commission
An Coimisiún Toghcháin is a statutory, independent body, established on 9 February 2023 with responsibility for a broad range of electoral functions set out in the Electoral Reform Act 2022. An Coimisiún is central to Ireland’s electoral system, carrying out a range of existing electoral functions, including:
- responsibility for the registration of political parties, and for the preparation and maintenance of the Register of Political Parties.
- the decision-making, oversight, secretariat and supporting services associated with explaining the subject matter of referendum proposals, the promotion of public awareness of referendums and encouragement of the electorate to vote at referendum polls.
- the conducting of reviews and making reports in relation to the constituencies for the election of members to the Dáil and the election of members to the European Parliament; and
- making reports for the Minister in relation to local electoral boundaries.
An Coimisiún is also tasked in the Electoral Reform Act with several new electoral roles, including:
- preparing research programmes and conducting research on electoral policy and procedure, and providing advice, as required, to the Minister and Government.
- promoting public awareness of, and working to increase public participation in the State’s electoral and democratic processes through education and information programmes;
- overseeing the modernised Electoral Register, making recommendations and setting standards in relation to its maintenance and updating;
- responsibility of the regulation of online paid-for political advertising, ensuring transparency in respect of online political advertisements which have been purchased to run during the period of an election or referendum campaign;
- responsibility for the investigation and monitoring of online disinformation, online misinformation and manipulative or inauthentic behaviour online during election campaign periods, as well as functions to prevent manipulative or inauthentic behaviours online.
- the preparation of ex-post reports on the administration of electoral events.
It is anticipated that the initial set of functions assigned to An Coimisiún will be expanded upon as it builds capacity and expertise.