Amid everything else going on, this week the elections for the Seanad, the upper house of the Irish legislature, are taking place. Unlike all other forms of election in Ireland, this election is done by postal ballot. Were it an election where voters were required to go to a polling station, it would of course have been postponed for now.
I am not sure if my vote will be registered however. Despite having all of the election fluff pushed through my letterbox in recent weeks, I had not received my actual ballot paper. So last week I contacted the office responsible for the distribution – the records department of the National University of Ireland (NUI). They informed me that the postal service had attempted to deliver the ballot paper (it was via registered post so its delivery must be verified) on March 3rd, after which it was returned to the NUI office. Three weeks passed, and they had yet to issue it again. I wonder if I had not contacted them would they have sent it at all? Or sent it after the election was over?
But anyway, they finally did reissue it, and seeing as I am now working from home I was there to receive it this morning. And I was able to exercise my franchise and get to the post office. The deadline for it to arrive is 11am tomorrow. Seeing as postal services have been staggered during the health crisis, it may take days to arrive. I know for a fact that something I sent last week took two days longer to arrived at its destination that it would have under normal circumstances.
So the delay in delivering my ballot paper may have denied me my democratic right to symbolically put the most odious of candidates at the very bottom of my preferences. The mouth-breathing troglodite pictured above is Senator Ronan Mullen, an ultra-conservative despicable character whose comments on mental health and women’s rights sound as if they are coming from distant, and horrible, decades past. This man in no way deserves to be an elected representative. Not only are his policies abhorrent, but he actually broke electoral law by canvassing inside a polling station in 2014 – I was witness to this during that year’s local and European elections. I reported him to the returning officer, but there doesn’t seem to have been any investigation of follow-up of any kind. He wasn’t elected that time, but was subsequently elected to the Seanad.
So, I do hope that in light of the current circumstances that they will accept ballots later. I have contacted the Seanad clerk for clarification.