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Vote being placed into a ballot box

Your Vote is Your Voice

National Election and Democracy Study

The Electoral Reform Act 2022 provides An Coimisiún with a significant research mandate to prepare research programmes and conduct research on electoral policy and procedure including on matters relating to the discharge of its functions. As a first step An Coimisiún published a draft Research Programme for public consultation in November 2023. This draft Programme included a commitment to develop a National Election and Democracy Study (NEDS) for Ireland.

Ireland has historically lagged behind other countries in relation to the availability of reliable and comprehensive data about its elections and political behaviour. Such studies have been in place in many other countries for well over 50 years. An Coimisiún aims to rectify this deficit and build a democratic databank to measure over time the views, attitudes and experiences of the Irish public of electoral events and democracy and the factors that influence these. There will be a particular focus on factors increasing turnout and political participation, with a view to informing An Coimisiún’s initiatives in these areas.

This data will also inform the separate post electoral event reviews which An Coimisiún are required to prepare and publish after each electoral event with particular requirements to look at the accessibility of the voting process for individuals with disabilities, illnesses or literacy challenges.

The NEDS will also include questions which are a key focus for political scientists in Election Studies around whether and how people used their vote and motivations around voting choices. The data gathered through the NEDS will be anonymised and open source so as to provide stakeholders, the public, the media and the political system with high quality information about the state of our democracy.

Referendum Pilot study

As the first step in the development of the NEDS study, a pilot study was commissioned for the referendums on 8th March. Advised by the academic team (see below), many of whom have been involved in previous similar referendum studies, three surveys were commissioned. These were conducted by two independent polling companies – an online and a telephone survey in advance of the referendums and a voters’ survey of a representative sample of 3,000 voters at 180 polling stations on 8 March. The data will be published after it has been collated and received.

National Election and Democracy Study Management Board

This National Election and Democracy Study project is being overseen and managed by a Management Board.

This Board is composed of a team of leading electoral experts and academics selected through an application process.

The members of the Board are as follows:

  • Dr. Rory Costello, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick
  • Dr. Johan A. Dornschneider-Elkink, School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin
  • Professor Georg Lutz, Director Fors (Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences), University of Lausanne.
  • Professor Gail McElroy, Department of Political Science, Trinity College Dublin
  • Dr. Theresa Reidy, Department of Government and Politics, University College Cork
  • Professor Jane Suiter, School of Communications, Dublin City University

The Board is chaired by Dr. Mary-Clare O’Sullivan, Head of Research, An Coimisiún Toghcháin.