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The Electoral Reform Act 2022 provides An Coimisiún with a significant research mandate to prepare research programmes and conduct research on electoral policy and procedure including on matters relating to the discharge of its functions. As a first step An Coimisiún published a draft Research Programme for public consultation in November 2023. This draft Programme included a commitment to develop a National Election and Democracy Study (NEDS) for Ireland.

Ireland has historically lagged behind other countries in relation to the availability of reliable and comprehensive data about its elections and political behaviour. Such studies have been in place in many other countries for well over 50 years. An Coimisiún aims to rectify this deficit and build a democratic databank to measure over time the views, attitudes and experiences of the Irish public of electoral events and democracy and the factors that influence these. There will be a particular focus on factors increasing turnout and political participation, with a view to informing An Coimisiún’s initiatives in these areas.

This data will also inform the separate post electoral event reviews which An Coimisiún are required to prepare and publish after each electoral event with particular requirements to look at the accessibility of the voting process for individuals with disabilities, illnesses or literacy challenges.

The NEDS will also include questions which are a key focus for political scientists in Election Studies around whether and how people used their vote and motivations around voting choices. The data gathered through the NEDS will be anonymised and open source so as to provide stakeholders, the public, the media and the political system with high quality information about the state of our democracy.