Local Elections (Disclosure of Donations and Expenditure) Act, 1999


Local Elections and European Parliament Elections Research

Research into electronic methods of recording and counting of votes.

25.—(1) (a) For the purpose of research relating to the introduction of electronic methods of recording votes on ballot papers by electors and the counting of such votes and notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in—

(i) section 20(1) of, and Part XII of the Second Schedule to, the European Parliament Elections Act, 1997 , or

(ii) Part XIV of the Local Elections Regulations, 1995 ( S.I. No. 297 of 1995 ),

the Minister may, in respect of any election held in the year 1999 for the purpose of electing persons as members of the European Parliament or of a local authority, by order provide for the inspection of counted ballot papers and, accordingly, references in the said Part XII or the said Part XIV relating to—

(I) the retention in the manner provided of ballot papers shall not apply to the extent provided for by the Minister by order under this subsection, and

(II) the destruction of ballot papers at the expiration period stated in those provisions shall apply subject to such longer period as may be provided for by the Minister by order under this subsection.

(b) Subject to subsection (2), the Minister may authorise—

(i) the carrying out of research for the purposes of this section by, or

(ii) the disclosure of information or a specified part thereof to,

such class or classes of persons as are specified in the order under this subsection.

(c) An order under this subsection may include such other matters as the Minister considers consequential to, or necessary for, the purposes of this subsection.

(d) An order under this subsection may be amended or revoked by the Minister by order.

(2) Research carried out by virtue of subsection (1) shall be conducted so as to ensure that the manner in which any voter voted shall not be disclosed as a consequence of conducting such research.

(3) No research shall be carried out by virtue of subsection (1) in connection with any constituency, electoral area or local electoral area until the expiry of the period specified for presenting a petition questioning the European Parliament election or local election or, if an election petition is lodged in court in connection with any such constituency, electoral area or local electoral area, until the court concerned has made an order determining the matter at issue in the petition or in the event of an appeal on a question of law against the decision of the court, until the matter has been finally determined.

(4) A person who is engaged in any capacity on the research referred to in subsection (1) and who communicates any information obtained at such research to any person without lawful authorisation shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,500.

(5) In this section “lawful authorisation” means in accordance with an order made under subsection (1) and not in contravention of subsection (2).