Paul McAuliffe: Electoral Reform Bill will protect our democracy

Published on: 31 March 2022


Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Electoral Reform, Deputy Paul McAuliffe, has welcomed the publication of the Electoral Reform Bill 2022 by Minister Darragh O’Brien TD. 

 

The Bill represents a major modernisation of the electoral system in Ireland and is a key opportunity to strengthen and protect our democratic process from emerging threats. 

 

The Bill provides for a new Electoral Commission and will simplify voter registration. 

 

However, Deputy McAuliffe has called for the legislation to be further strengthened in relation to political financing and online advertising.

 

Deputy McAuliffe commented, “I welcome this ambitious Bill which will help to modernise our democracy and increase voter engagement in the process through simplified registration and dissemination of information around elections and referenda. 

 

“However, in an era when the challenges posed by online disinformation and cyber security threats continue to mount, I believe the Bill could be strengthened. The establishment of an Electoral Commission provides an opportunity to build a strong statutory body that can help to defend against malicious interference in elections.”

 

“I hope to see amendments brought forward that will tackle financing of political parties, whether through monetary donations or donations in kind. Most importantly, the issue of online advertising by political groups should be addressed. I believe political online advertising should be prohibited until fully regulated, and not just during a four week election campaign.” 

 

He added: “There is a major discrepancy between the current strictly regulated approach to political advertising on TV and radio and the current free for all in the online sphere. On-line platforms should have a strict rulebook and the Electoral Commission is an opportunity to hold them to account on misinformation which is posted on their sites and brought to their attention.”

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