Up to almost 25,000 young people in Dublin City may not be on the electoral register within days of the voter registration deadline, which is November 25, estimates the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI).
When including the rest of Dublin county, the number of potentially unregistered young people reaches over 50,500, according to NYCI. The rest of Leinster contains an estimated 37,393 unregistered young people, while Munster purportedly has 39,021 and Connacht and Ulster 24,494.
A NYCI poll conducted earlier this year found that 22% of those aged 18-29 were not registered to vote. Based on the most recent population data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), this would mean up to 24,683 young people in Dublin City risk missing out on their right to vote. The poll of 404 people aged 18-29 was conducted by RedC for NYCI.
James Doorley, NYCI Deputy Director, stated: “We know from our work with young people that the vast majority want to vote but not all are aware they have to register. This is particularly an issue for the more than 61,000 young people who turned 18 and became eligible to vote over in the last 12 months.”
Potential young voters can register to vote even if they are not currently 18. Anyone of age 18 by February 15th 2018 are now eligible to apply to register to vote.
In a statement, Doorley encouraged young people to register by filling out the relevant form, the RFA1. He explained: “In effect the deadline is Thursday November 23, as the form needs to be completed and posted back to the local authority to arrive by the deadline. If applicants miss the postal deadline, the only other option is to deliver the completed RFA1 form by hand.”
NYCI argued that our “cumbersome and outdated system” makes it difficult for many young people to get on the electoral roll. The group have called for automatic registration of all 18 years olds and a national online registration system to reduce the high levels of non-registration.
The council did, however, acknowledge the work done by the Union of Students’ in Ireland (USI), which is a member of NYCI, as well as Spunout. NYCI partnered with these groups on the National Voter Registration day initiative last week. “This will have contributed to an increase in the number of young people registered,” said Doorley, “but more remains to be done”.
Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) has registered almost 1,200 new voters since it began its registration drives for Empowerment Week in September. The union registered almost 500 students in its first day of registration drives this year.