Over 18,000 students have been added to the register of electors this month, as part of the Get RegD campaign carried out by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).
The campaign has seen the number of student voters added to the register of electors in 2017 more than double. With a referendum on repealing the 8th amendment planned to be held in next May or June, and a further six referenda remaining a possibility over the coming two years, thousands of students have registered in time to take part in the national vote next year.
USI President Michael Kerrigan wasn’t at all surprised by the huge number of students who came forward to register, stating: “With a decision on higher education funding on the horizon, a referendum on the 8th amendment and the possibility of a general election in 2018, students understand more than ever how important it is to have their voices heard.”
USI acts as the state representative for Ireland’s 374,000 students, and has been running drives on university campuses across the country this month in order to get as many students registered to vote next year as possible.
Kerrigan praised the work of the individual students’ unions and student societies across the country who made the campaign a success.
“We have seen long queues across the country of students registering to vote. The work carried out by students’ unions and societies has been incredible. Students have shown that they are engaged with and understand the issues, and these figures demonstrate the determination of our members to effect change.”
Students have been signing up to vote in large numbers since late 2014, when students were preparing to take part in the referendum on marriage equality, which seen record levels of people under 25 taking part.
Speaking to Trinity News on the upcoming referendum and the registration of students to vote, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Kevin Keane said: “The work of registering our students to vote is central to everything TCDSU stands for. We are all about empowering our students to stand up and have their voices heard, and that has never been more important than it is now.”
“With seven referenda promised in the next two years, and a referendum on the 8th amendment promised by the summertime, Ireland is on the cusp of a social revolution. Young people, and students specifically, have a long and very proud history of leading the way on social change in Ireland, and the ability to vote is a fundamental part of that.”
Almost 1,200 students were registered in a registration drive organised by TCDSU, the first of which took place during Empowerment Week.