A coalition of youth groups are calling on young people to make sure that they are registered to vote in the upcoming local, European and by-elections.
The youth groups consist of the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and SpunOut.ie.
“With the deadline for inclusion on the supplementary register of electors just 5 days away (6 May), it is essential that young people move to ensure they are eligible to cast a ballot on May 23rd,” said James Doorley, NYCI Deputy Director.
Large numbers of young people across the country are registered and using their vote. The 2011 general election saw an increase of 12% in voter turnout for young people on the previous general election, according to statistics from the CSO.
“However, approximately 50,000 young people turn 18 every year in Ireland and they need to get registered so their voice can be heard in these elections,” continued Mr Doorley.
Not being on the register is a key reason why some young people don’t vote, with many unaware that they have to register.
A previous NYCI study found that 26% of 18-25 year olds were not registered to vote, rising to 36% among 18-21 year olds.
Many young people lose out on the opportunity to cast their ballot because they are studying or working away from home, unaware they can change their polling station to one near their college, university or workplace.
A quick and easy ‘how-to’ guide with information on how to register to vote or change your vote to a new address, is available at www.spunout.ie/vote.
Denise McCarthy, Deputy President/VP for Welfare, USI says that getting registered to vote is an imperative step for any young person who wants their voice to be heard.
“We urge people to get registered, get informed and use their voices to make a difference to the important issues facing us all today.”
James Doorley, Deputy Director of the NYCI agreed with the statement saying:
“It’s vital that young people go out and vote as it’s one of the best means by which to get politicians and political parties to engage with issues such as youth unemployment, the cost of living, mental health services and many others that impact on the daily lives of young people.
“We also call on candidates to communicate with young voters and outline what they plan to do to address the concerns and needs of young people.”
Finally, the groups are also proposing the establishment of a National Voter Registration Day.
Each year, thousands of potential voters miss the deadline for inclusion on the full and supplementary registers of electors.
A National Voter Registration Day has been proven to be successful in many other jurisdictions around the world and could have a significant impact on the numbers turning out to vote in Ireland.
“Voter Registration Days have had success in other countries where thousands of additional voters have been registered,” Ian Power, Director of SpunOut.ie said.
“A day with a single call-to-action for potential voters would bring government and civil society partners together to ensure that those who have never voted before are engaged and empowered to use their vote.”