20,210 students have been registered as part of a nationwide voter registration drive conducted by students’ unions ahead of the upcoming marriage equality referendum, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) president, Laura Harmon, has tonight announced.
The USI president told Trinity News that she was “really pleased” with the response to the initiative, as the target of getting 10,000 students registered was more than doubled.
She said that there was a “huge appetite” among students for the upcoming marriage equality referendum, which is set to take place next spring, and that she predicted a similarly large turnout on polling day.
The drive would continue into the second semester with Gardaí present to stamp forms, she added.
Here in Trinity, student volunteers had led registration efforts both on and off campus.
The initiative also enabled students to move their votes up to Dublin, which should make it easier for students to vote as the referendum is likely to take place in May and, as such, coincide with exam season.
According to Trinity College Students’ Union (TCDSU) president, Domhnall McGlacken-Byrne, a total of 3,150 Trinity students have been registered to vote as part of the SU-coordinated drive, which had intensified in the run up to today’s registration deadline.
In a statement to this newspaper, he said: “It is a fantastic result given that a survey we carried out in Freshers’ Week revealed a 65% registration baseline, with first years averaging at about 50% registration and final years around 80%.”
“For this reason we focused heavily on first years in our efforts when making lecture addresses last week and when going door-to-door back in October,” he said.
“Overall, it was a really, really positive campaign and was the perfect demonstration that people don’t have to be ‘involved’ in the SU or as a class rep or on a committee for a society to engage with something they really care about. In this instance, the campaign resonated with anyone who cares about human rights and as such, rallying the troops was the easy part! All we had to do was give people a clipboard, a pen and to tell them where and when, and the drive looked after itself from there.”
Another survey will be run after Christmas to observe any change in “overall coverage”, as 65% of a 16,000 strong body only left about 5,000 students to be targeted, he added.