Dáil Éireann - Volume 479 - 13 May, 1997

Written Answers. - General Election Regulations.

[375] 141. Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for the Environment if ballot papers for the coming general election will have photographs of candidates for the benefit of those with literacy problems; the progress, if any, which is being made in this direction for the future; and if all polling stations will be wheelchair-accessible with ramps and specially designed booths. [12524/97]

143. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for the Environment if his attention has been drawn to the campaign to have candidates' photographs on ballot papers for local and national elections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12552/97]

Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 and 143 together.

The ballot papers for the next general election will not contain photographs of candidates. The European Parliament Elections Act, 1997 provides that ballot papers at a European Parliament election may include a photograph of each candidate and subject to resolving technical problems which are under consideration at present, the intention is that candidates' photographs will be included on ballot papers at the 1999 European election. The question of including photographs on other election ballot papers will be considered in the light of experience at the European Parliament elections.

Under the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1996, each returning officer is required, where practicable, to provide polling stations which are accessible to wheelchair users. The Act also requires a returning officer to make arrangements at polling stations to facilitate the marking and placing in the ballot box of ballot papers by voters who are wheelchair users. These requirements have been brought to the attention of each returning officer by my Department.