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Young candidate's challenge to Government after Youth Council warning on 100,000 voters

1 May, 2004

A young Sinn Féin local election candidate has challenged the Government to explain what it is doing to increase voter turn-out after a warning from the National Youth Council that up to 100,000 young people eligible to vote may not be able to cast their ballot on June 11th because they are not on the electoral register.

25-year-old Ciarán Mac Annraoi, a former student activist running in the Taoiseach's North Inner City constituency, asked: "Just what is the Government doing to increase voter turn-out?

"It's not apathy that stops young people voting - it's the awkward and time-consuming process of registration that puts them off. Voter registration drives could be carried out in colleges and shopping centres well in advance of elections. Even better would be for the Government to introduce automatic registration for people when they turn 18.

"It is no good Government ministers wringing their hands about low voter turn-outs when they refuse to make things easier for people to register and to cast their votes.‰

People who are 18 on or before June 11th are eligible to vote. Everyone who is ordinarily resident in Ireland can vote in the local elections. Irish and EU citizens can vote in the European elections. Only Irish citizens can vote in the referendum on citizenship.

Ciarán Mac Annraoi said that voters can still register by getting forms from any post office, Garda station, local authority office or website, courthouse, public library, or Sinn Féin. Applicants then need to present proof of identity at a Garda station and have the form signed by a Garda.

"If people want the Government to listen, they need to use their vote, however much the Government might try to put them off."ENDS

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