VOTING

McGahon hits out at "outdated" voting registration process

He also wants 18-year-olds in Ireland automatically registered to vote in future

Barry Landy

Reporter:

Barry Landy

Email:

barry.landy@dundalkdemocrat.ie

McGahon hits out at "outdated" voting registration process

Dundalk Municipal District cathaoirleach John McGahon

Dundalk Municipal cathaoirleach John McGahon says he wants change to the Register of Electors in light of the Eight Amendment Referendum, including having 18-year-olds automatically registered to vote. 

The Fine Gael councillor wants it to be easier for younger people to vote while he has also called for online registration - a move that would remove what he calls "hoops" to register. 

"Having to jump through so many hoops to register to vote in this day and age is outdated and cumbersome," he said. 

The recent referendum has shown me once again that the process of registering to vote or changing address is outdated and needs to be reformed," he continued. "For example, if you want to register to vote, you need to download an RFA2 Form, go to a Garda station, have it stamped and then leave it into a council’s office."

McGahon wants Ireland to follow in the footsteps of the United Kingdom, where the electorate can register to vote and change address details online using a national insurance number, the UK equivalent of a PPS number.

"By moving it online, we are making it easier and simpler for people to keep their information up to date. Equally, it helps make the register more accurate. There are huge inaccuracies in our electoral register up and down the country and it’s leading to a bloated and incorrect electoral register.

The Louth County Councillor also wants the Government to see 18-year-olds automatically registered, in light of the huge surge in youth turnout and participation in the 2015 and 2018 referendums in Ireland. 

"In 2017 alone, over 61,000 young people celebrated their 18th birthday. The National Youth Council of Ireland has proposed for many years that all young people should be automatically registered and this will dramatically reduce non-registration," he said.

"The recent referendum has quite literally seen a revolution in terms of youth participation and if we are serious about continuing this trend we need to make the voting process easier and simpler.

Also, during the recent referendum, I had so many people ask me where they still entitled to vote if they were abroad or in hospital. In the UK you can apply for a proxy for a single election on a specific date for circumstances such as being away on polling day, having a medical issue or not being able to vote in person because of work. I think we should also consider this."