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Ireland’s Statutory, Independent Electoral Commission

25 January, 2024 – The independent information campaign for the two 8 March Referendums launched today, with a commitment from the Chair of Ireland’s independent electoral commission, An Coimisiún Toghcháin, that people can depend on the Electoral Commission for independent, clear and accessible information.

An Coimisiún Toghcháin has taken on the role previously held by the Referendum Commission to deliver the public information campaign for the two Constitutional Referendums focused on Care, and the Family.

The Commission unveiled today its information booklet, printed copies of which will be delivered to 2.3million homes across the State before the 8 March vote. The booklet does not take any side, but sets out what is being proposed in, and the legal effect of, the two votes.

The Commission has also launched its referendum website (www.ElectoralCommission.ie/Referendums) offering information on the 8 March votes and about voting.

After today’s launch event the Chair is taking part in an initial series of campaign information visits in Tullamore, Newbridge, Sligo and Galway, meeting with factory workers, community sports groups, arts groups and members of the Traveller community.

Speaking this morning to a gathering of students at the launch, held on TU Dublin’s Grangegorman campus, Chair of An Coimisiún Toghcháin, Supreme Court Judge, Ms. Justice Marie Baker stated:

“These two Referendums offer people a choice to maintain or to change how our Constitution firstly recognises the concept of the family unit, and secondly recognises of the role played by people, who care for their family members. These are two important votes which will help shape our future laws and court decisions.

“It’s our role, as Ireland’s independent electoral commission to ensure people have access to independent, clear and accessible information about these referendums to help them decide their vote.

“We’re already rolling out our independent information campaign on TV, Radio, online, in newspapers and will be delivering an information booklet to every home in the country ahead of polling day on 8 March.

“Your vote is your voice – so use it to have your say on 8 March, or else others will be deciding for you.”

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, Communications and Public Engagement Manager, 

An Coimisiún Toghcháin, The Electoral Commission,

086 0749344 Brian.dawson@electoralcommission.ie 

– ENDS-

Editor’s Note:

The Referendum Information Booklet is available at the following link for download:

https://ec-cdn-live.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/app/uploads/2024/01/24155834/100934_EC_Family-And-Care-Booklet_English_Digital_23012452-002.pdf

Versions of this booklet will also be available in Irish, Braille, Easy to Read, Irish Sign Language, audio and large print formats.

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:

  • 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; and
  • 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.
  • responsibility for the registration of political parties.
  • making reports for the Minister in relation to local electoral boundaries.

An Coimisiún is also tasked 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;
  • the regulation of online paid-for political advertising, ensuring transparency in respect of online political advertisements during the period of an election or referendum campaign; (Legislation not yet commenced)
  • 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. (Legislation not yet commenced)
  • 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.