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Fine Gael TD for Cork East and Chairperson of the Oireachtas Justice Committee, David Stanton, has welcomed the approval of his suggested changes to the General Election ballot paper.

“Up until now the party emblems have been placed along the left-hand side of the ballot paper and in the case of ‘non-party’ or Independent candidates, the space for the emblem is left blank. Some voters were using the blank space to express their voting preferences. I felt strongly that any such confusion should be removed in the interest of fairness to all candidates. I brought my case to the Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly and I am very pleased that he has now approved these changes to the ballot papers.

“From now on the space for a political party’s emblem will be moved from the left-hand side of the ballot paper to a new location to the left of the photograph. There will be only one box that should be marked for each candidate after voters have read across, from left to right.

“Following on from the review of the format of the referendum ballot paper earlier this year, the Department of the Environment also consulted with the National Adult Literacy Association and the National Council for the Blind in the review of the Dáil election ballot paper. The revised form of the ballot paper should help voters to avoid misplacing voting preferences and it should be more user-friendly for voters with visual and literacy difficulties.

“These, very simple, but significant changes will make the voting process fairer and easier for all voters. The new format will make it clearer where they should place their mark on the ballot paper.”