#RealityCheck: The electoral register is still overstated by half a million people

Alan Kelly stated the register would be accurate by polling day

Three weeks ago, Newstalk revealed that the electoral register was overstated by a minimum of 200,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

The Minister responsible for the register is Alan Kelly who disputed our figures and stated that when the register was published on February 15th it would be accurate.

Speaking to Newstalk Lunchtime, Minister Kelly said: "We're very confident that the roll will be up to the standard required as regards to the general election".

"I certainly would question the figures - I believe that we will have a very comprehensive electoral register, done to the best of the ability of the people who do that work".

I have found that the new published register confirms my analysis three weeks ago. The register is overstated by a minimum of over 193,000 people and potentially 500,000.

It has not changed with any significance at all since we did the piece three weeks ago, the numbers on the register are 3.257 million which is 48,000 increase on 2011.

I've gone to the CSO for the up to date population figures which has taken into account the last census in 2011 plus all migration changes and birth and deaths since then.

The maximum number of Irish and UK citizens aged 18 and over in this country at this point in time is 3.064 million which is 193,000 less people living in the country that are on the register.

However, the real picture is far worse. That 193,000 figure assumes a 100% registration rate among citizens. That is never the case in any western democracy, where registration is voluntary. In Northern Ireland, where the register was re-drawn from scratch in recent years, using the equivalent of our PPS numbers, registration is just short of 90% of the population.

Even assuming a similar registration rate of 90% south of the border – and the huge investment in the North to developing a centralised voter database has not been replicated in the South – then the register here is overstated by nearly 500,000 voters.

The reality is it's impossible to get it right with the way our current methodology of collecting the register works because it's owned by 31 separate councils. There is also no mechanism to check if people are on it more than once because there's no unique identifier.

We wouldn't have been back here again if Minister Alan Kelly said, I accept there may be a problem. He defended the indefensible.

This has a knock-on effect on another aspect; the turnout is much more positive in Ireland's favour than the recorded turnout. This would mean we have one of the best turnouts in Europe.

 

Live from @ElectionNT