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Election date “a cynical decision” – Ó Clochartaigh

27 July, 2011

The Government took a cynical decision in setting the date for the presidential election for a Thursday rather than at a weekend, according to Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh
The Galway West Senator was referring in the Seanad today specifically to the difficulties which students face in casting their votes on a Thursday.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:

“This is a very cynical decision that the government has taken regarding the date of the election. It is common knowledge that mid-week elections do not suit students, in particular those who live away from home. The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has regularly stated that elections need to be held at weekends, so that as many students as possible have the opportunity to cast their vote.

“It’s clear that the Government do not want students voting in large numbers, as they are worried that they will not vote for the favoured establishment candidates. This is a very cynical attitude and the Government should be ashamed of themselves.
“It is vitally important that as many citizens as possible are given the opportunity to cast a vote and the Government should do all within their power to assist citizens in that regard.

“Sinn Féin have made numerous proposals to increase voter participation, including the establishment of an independent commission which would be responsible for voter education and registration, automatic registration once a voter becomes eligible using PPS numbers to avoid fraud - and the holding of elections at weekends.

“I call on the Government to consider our proposals, in particular those in relation to weekend elections. These are measures the Government can easily implement to improve voter participation without much effort, at no extra cost, but it appears they don’t wish to do so for party political reasons. This is paying a great disservice to the students of this country.”

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