Macra ‘ballot paper confusion’ as count gets underway

Some confusion has arisen over ballot papers ahead of the official Macra na Feirme election count at the Irish Farm Centre in Dublin this afternoon, Wednesday, April 10.

It is understood that a ballot paper was returned to head office which was not on the list of eligible clubs to vote.

A list of eligible clubs to vote is made available to all candidates during the election.

On March 19 this list was updated. Four clubs were added to the Leinster list at this time – bringing the total clubs eligible to vote to 50.

However, Ballycoog Macra in Co. Wicklow returned a vote, despite not being on the list of clubs eligible to vote.

This suggests that the candidates were unaware that the club was eligible.

It is now unclear as to how many ballot papers were issued, as Ballycoog Macra received a ballot paper despite the club not appearing on the official list.

To be eligible to vote a club must have had a minimum of 10 registered members as of October 31, 2018. The club must also have a registered secretary.

However, the official deadline by which that secretary must be registered by prior to the vote is unclear; as is the deadline by when the last ballot papers can be issued.

‘Apology’

Outgoing Macra na Feirme national president, James Healy, has contacted the election candidates to “clarify” the situation.

In the correspondence, seen by AgriLand, Healy outlined that the situation arose due to a clerical error where files had not been updated.

The memo states: “Just to clarify the situation, an updated list of clubs receiving ballot papers was uploaded to the Sharefile on March 19, 2019. This was in advance of the letters containing the ballot papers being prepared that day.

“Ballycoog Macra na Feirme had 10 members on October 31, so they were eligible to vote but had not registered their secretary so were not on the list.

“Late on March 19, 2019, they registered their club secretary and so were entitled to receive a ballot paper.

I must apologise for the breakdown in communications that occurred at this point as the list on Sharefile was not updated to inform candidates that they had received a ballot paper.

“I understand that this will have impacted all candidates equally,” the memo concludes.

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