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ELECTORAL (AMENDMENT) (NO. 2) ACT, 1986
Postal Voting Rules
Form of ballot Paper and receipt.
1. (1) The ballot paper to be sent to postal voters shall be in the same form as, and indistinguishable from, the ballot papers delivered to other electors.
(2) The receipt sent with the ballot paper to postal voters shall be in the prescribed form and shall have printed thereon the prescribed instructions to the voter.
Presence of agents.
2. The returning officer, his assistants and clerks, members of the Garda Síochána on duty, the election agent of each candidate or some person, appointed by such election agent, and no other person except with the permission of the returning officer, may be present at the proceedings on the issue of ballot papers, and on the opening of the postal voters ballot boxes and the envelopes contained therein.
Issue of ballot papers.
3. (1) The returning officer shall, not later than the day after the last day for receiving nominations of candidates at an election, give the election agent of each candidate notice of the time and place at which he will issue the ballot papers, and of the number of persons each agent may appoint to attend the said issue and, where any subsequent issue of ballot papers is made, the returning officer shall give the election agent of each candidate, as soon as practicable, notice of the time and place at which he will make such subsequent issue and of the number of persons each agent may appoint to attend such issue.
(2) Each ballot paper issued shall be marked with an official mark which shall be embossed or perforated so as to be visible on both sides of the paper, and the number (including polling district letter), name and description of the elector as stated in the postal voters list shall be called out, and a mark shall be placed in a copy of the postal voters list opposite to the number of the elector to denote that a ballot paper has been issued to the elector, but without showing the number of the ballot paper issued to him.
(3) The returning officer shall place in an envelope addressed to the postal voter—
(a) the ballot paper;
(b) the form of receipt;
(c) an envelope (in this Schedule referred to as a ‘covering envelope’) addressed to the returning officer;
(d) a smaller envelope marked ‘ballot paper envelope’;
and shall effectually close such first mentioned envelope.
(4) All envelopes addressed to the postal voters shall be counted and forthwith delivered by the returning officer to the nearest head post office, or such other office as may be arranged with the head postmaster, and the postmaster shall stamp with the date stamp of An Post a form of receipt to be presented by the returning officer stating the number of envelopes so delivered, and shall immediately forward such envelopes for delivery to the persons to whom they are addressed.
(5) Where an envelope containing a ballot paper and other documents referred to in this Rule is, before polling day, returned to the returning officer as not having been delivered to a postal voter, the returning officer may re-address the envelope and send it by post to that voter.
Provision of postal voters ballot boxes.
4. (1) The returning officer shall provide a ballot box or ballot boxes for the reception of the covering envelopes when returned by the postal voters.
(2) Every such ballot box shall, at the time of the issue of the postal ballot papers, be shown open and empty to the agents present, and
shall be sealed with the seal of the returning officer and the seals of such of the agents as desire to affix their seals, and shall be marked ‘postal voters ballot box’, and with the name of the constituency, and the returning officer shall make provision for the safe custody of such ballot box.
Envelopes to be placed in postal voters ballot boxes.
5. The returning officer shall, immediately on receipt of covering envelopes, place them unopened in a postal voters ballot box.
Envelopes to be treated as covering envelopes.
6. If the returning officer receives, before the close of the poll, an envelope other than a covering envelope and finds therein any document which it would have been appropriate to send to him in a covering envelope, he shall—
(a) securely close the envelope;
(b) endorse thereon, and sign, a statement that the envelope has been closed by him with the contents intact;
(c) place the closed envelope in a postal voters ballot box;
(d) thereafter treat the envelope as a covering envelope;
and any reference in this Schedule to a covering envelope shall be construed as including a reference to an envelope which has been dealt with by the returning officer in accordance with this Rule.
Procedure at close of poll.
7. At the hour fixed for the closing of the poll the returning officer shall either—
(a) seal each postal voters ballot box so that no further papers can be inserted therein, or
(b) forthwith open each such box and extract and deal with the contents thereof in accordance with Rule 8 of this Schedule.
Opening of postal voters ballot boxes.
8. (1) The postal voters ballot boxes shall be opened by the returning officer, in the presence of the agents, before the time fixed for the counting of the votes.
(2) The returning officer shall give the election agent of each candidate at least twenty-four hours' notice in writing of the time and place at which he will proceed to open the postal voters ballot boxes, and the envelopes contained therein, and of the number of persons such agent may appoint to be present at the opening. The returning officer shall give the said agents reasonable facilities for overseeing the proceedings at the opening of the boxes and all information with respect thereto which he can give them consistent with the orderly conduct of the proceedings and the performance of his functions.
(3) When a postal voters ballot box has been opened, the returning officer shall extract the covering envelopes therefrom and count and note the number of envelopes so extracted, and shall then open each covering envelope separately and examine the receipt.
(4) If the receipt is found to be duly signed, he shall place the receipt and the ballot paper envelope in separate receptacles or, if the ballot paper is not contained in a ballot paper envelope, he shall place the receipt in the appropriate receptacle and shall place the ballot paper, without unfolding it, if possible, in a ballot box in accordance with Rule 10 of this Schedule.
(5) If he is not satisfied that the receipt has been duly signed, he shall endorse the receipt ‘rejected’, and shall attach thereto the ballot paper envelope, without opening such envelope, or if there is no such envelope, the ballot paper.
(6) Where a receipt does not appear to accompany the ballot paper envelope, the returning officer shall open the envelope, and if it is found to contain the receipt, he shall deal with such receipt and ballot paper in accordance with the Rules in this Schedule.
(7) Any receipt not accompanied by a ballot paper, and any ballot paper not accompanied by a receipt, shall be marked ‘rejected’.
(8) Where a ballot paper and receipt are received together, the ballot paper shall not be rejected solely on the ground that the ballot paper and receipt were, or either of them was, not placed in the proper envelopes or envelope or that any such envelope was not closed.
9. (1) The returning officer shall on a request being made by the agent of a candidate show to the agent any receipt which he is rejecting on the ground that it has not been duly signed.
(2) The returning officer shall keep all rejected receipts with the attached envelopes or ballot papers, as the case may be, separate from all other documents.
Ballot papers to be placed in ballot boxes.
10. When the covering envelopes in any postal voters ballot box have been opened and their contents dealt with under the two preceding Rules, the returning officer shall open each unopened ballot paper envelope (other than the ballot paper envelopes referred to in Rule 8 (5) of this Schedule) and place the ballot paper, without unfolding it, if possible, in a ballot box previously shown and sealed in the manner provided in Rule 4 of this Schedule which shall be subsequently treated as a ballot box for the purposes of Rule 32 of Part I of the Fifth Schedule to this Act (as substituted by section 41 of the Electoral Act, 1963 ).
Duties of returning officer.
11. (1) The returning officer, as soon as may be practicable after the completion of the issue of the ballot papers and in the presence of the agents of the candidates, shall make up in separate packets, sealed with his own seal and sealed by such of the agents as desire to affix their seals, the marked copy of the postal voters list and the counterfoils of the ballot papers: provided that where any subsequent issue of ballot papers is made, the sealed packet containing the marked copy of the postal voters list may be opened by the returning officer for the purposes of that issue, and on completion of that issue, the list and the counterfoils of the ballot papers at that issue shall be made up and sealed in accordance with this Rule.
(2) As soon as the returning officer has completed the placing of the ballot papers in the ballot box mentioned in Rule 10 of this Schedule, he shall seal up in separate packets—
(a) the receipts which accompanied any ballot papers duly accepted;
(b) any rejected receipts, with envelopes (if any) attached; and
(c) any rejected ballot papers with envelopes (if any) attached.
(3) Where covering envelopes are received by the returning officer after the close of the poll, or where any envelopes addressed to postal voters are returned as undelivered, the returning officer shall not open such envelopes and shall, subject to his power of readdressing such envelopes pursuant to Rule 3 (5) of this Schedule, seal such envelopes up into separate packets.
(4) The returning officer shall endorse on each packet mentioned in paragraphs (1), (2) and (3) of this Rule a description of its contents, and the name of the constituency and the date of the election to which such contents relate.
(5) The returning officer shall forward to the Clerk of the Dáil at the same time as he forwards the documents mentioned in Rule 36 of Part I of the Fifth Schedule to this Act—
(a) any packets referred to in the foregoing provisions of this Rule, and
(b) a statement in such form as may be directed by the Minister for the Environment showing the number of ballot papers sent to postal voters, and giving with respect to such papers the particulars required by the form.
(6) Any envelopes returned as undelivered and any covering envelopes received by the returning officer after the said packets have been forwarded to the Clerk of the Dáil shall be retained unopened and shall be forwarded subsequently.
Disposal of documents.
12. Rules 7 (as amended by section 42 of the Electoral Act, 1963 ), 38, 39 (as amended by section 1 (h) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1972 ), 40 and 41 (as amended by section 1 (i) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1972 ) of Part I of the Fifth Schedule to this Act shall apply to the documents sent by the returning officer to the Clerk of the Dáil under the preceding Rule in this Schedule in the same manner as these Rules apply to documents of a like nature mentioned therein.
Application of Rules in Fifth Schedule.
13. Rules 47 and 53 of Part I of the Fifth Schedule to this Act shall apply to the matters dealt with in this Schedule as if those Rules were set out in this Schedule, and Rules 49 and 51 of that Part of that Schedule shall apply to every agent within the meaning of this Schedule in the same manner as those Rules apply to agents within the meaning of that Schedule.
Definition of agent.
14. In this Schedule ‘agent’ includes the election agent of a candidate and any person appointed by such agent to be present at the issue or opening of postal voters ballot papers.”.