Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2001

Counting of postal and special voter ballot papers under this Part.

43.—(1) The sealed ballot box containing postal and special voters ballot papers shall be opened, in the presence of agents of the candidates and not less than 2 members of the returning officer's staff, before the conclusion of voting on polling day.

(2) The ballot papers extracted by the returning officer from the said ballot box shall be counted and their total number compared with the number shown in the appropriate ballot paper account prepared under section 76 of the Principal Act as applied to this Part by section 46 .

(3) The returning officer, while counting and recording the number of ballot papers, shall cause the said papers to be kept face upwards and shall take due precautions to prevent any person from seeing the numbers printed on the backs of the said papers.

(4) Subsections (2) to (4) of section 118 of the Principal Act shall apply to ballot papers dealt with under this section.

(5) The returning officer shall reject any of the ballot papers that are invalid and before commencing the entry of ballot paper preferences, the returning officer shall operate the voting machine, which shall have a cartridge or disc installed in it in accordance with section 39 , in his or her charge to demonstrate to such persons as are present that no votes are cast or recorded on the voting machine. The returning officer shall cause a printed statement to be produced by the voting machine showing the names of the candidates on the ballot paper and that no votes are cast or recorded on the machine. The returning officer shall then in the presence of agents and not less than 2 members of his or her staff enter the preferences shown on the postal and special voters ballot papers on the ballot paper displayed on the voting machine. After the vote preferences have been entered on the said ballot paper from each postal or special voter ballot paper, the returning officer shall then press the vote button on the voting machine.

(6) On completion of the entry of the votes in the voting machine, the returning officer shall cause a printed statement to be produced by the machine showing the number of votes recorded and a list of candidates on the ballot paper.

(7) The statements produced under subsections (5) and (6) shall be signed by the returning officer or a person authorised by him or her and witnessed by an agent or if no agent is present by another person present.

(8) The returning officer shall extract the cartridge or disc from the voting machine and retain it, together with statements produced by the voting machine, in a sealed envelope until the counting of votes commences in accordance with section 44 .

(9) On completion of the activity referred to in subsection (8), the returning officer shall place in separate sealed packets—

(a) the postal and special voters ballot papers, and

(b) the ballot papers rejected under subsection (5),

and shall mark on each packet particulars of its contents, the date of the polling day at the election and the constituency to which it relates and such packets shall be sent to the Clerk of the Dáil together with the documents specified in section 129 of the Principal Act.

(10) An election shall not be questioned on the grounds that the requirement in subsection (5) or (6) with respect to the production by a voting machine of the printed statement referred to in subsection (5) or (6) has not been complied with.