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Senator Reilly calls for weekend voting

13 January, 2016

With speculation rife on the date for the 2016 general election, Sinn Féin Senator and Spokesperson on Youth Affairs, Kathryn Reilly, has called on An Taoiseach to hold the general election on a weekend to facilitate as many people as possible to vote.

Senator Reilly said:

“This call for weekend voting is not new. It is one made many times by politicians, youth organisations and others to facilitate as many people as possible to cast their vote. It is well known that the day selected for an election has implications for the voter turnout and it cannot be the case that one or more groups of people are disadvantaged in their ability to vote because of the day selected.

"We need to respond to the realities of the lives of Irish people today and design our voting times and arrangements to suit them. We must be mindful of those people who are commuting long distances for work or who may be away from home during the week, such as students.

“We need to ensure that the election is held on a day to maximise voter turnout and participation. The Fine Gael Director of Election, Brian Hayes, himself made this call back in 2002. This has been echoed by other Government TDs and Ministers since. I am calling on the Taoiseach firstly to ensure that the election will not be midweek and asking him to consider weekend voting, as was done with the Children’s Referendum.

“Holding the general election on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, is one of the best methods by which to guarantee the maximum participation of people, particularly young people in the upcoming election, which is one their most crucial civic rights and responsibilities.  

“While the turnout for the Children’s Referendum was criticised for its low turnout on a Saturday, this cannot be used as a deterrent for weekend voting for the general election. Indeed, a RedC Poll commissioned by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) in 2012 showed more than three-quarters of the electorate were in favour of all elections and referenda being held on a Saturday. This was across all age demographics.

“This Government previously hailed a democratic revolution, and we would like to see some semblance of this in the Government’s dying days. This can easily be done by the Taoiseach confirming he will not hold the election midweek and will hold it on a weekend.”

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