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'Whatever I have to do, I'll do it': Voters rush to get on the register before the 5pm cut-off

Before the deadline closed, we spoke to some prospective voters in Dublin city about why they registered today.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

TODAY WAS THE last day for citizens to get on the voting register before the upcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment – and Garda stations and local authorities have been busy dealing with last-minute requests.

Figures will not be available until later in the week on how many people registered today, but anecdotal evidence from local authorities and garda stations around the country suggest that several thousand people got their forms in with just hours to go.

In the past few weeks, there’s been a push to get people to register to vote before the deadline today at 5pm. From early morning, there have been reports of queues at local authorities and Garda stations busy with registration forms.

In Dublin’s Pearse Station, queues of 10-15 people began to form from lunchtime, with most people making a last-minute change of address. Some people were confused what the next step of the process was after a stamp from the Gardaí, and some said that there should be an option to register online, particularly for a change of address.

To get on the voting register or to change your address, you need to get either the RFA2 form or the RFA3 form stamped by your local garda station (you need ID for this) and returned to the relevant local authority (more on that here).

One 30-year-old man Eric, had said that he wasn’t going to register to vote at all until a friend talked him into it.

“I do think it’s important to vote after speaking to my friend, I was kind of sitting on the fence before that.

I suppose I didn’t feel interested, a lot of the campaign posters put me off the situation because I didn’t feel that they communicated a message to me.
So it was good that my friend to turn around and challenged me to consider it in a more personal way. So that changed my mind.

Another man, Peter, said that he’d come to change his address.

“I thought I’d done this already but I checked the register and it must have not gone through because I checked the register and it was my old address.

I’m not too sure [what's next], I think I have to get this to my new council and scan it in and send it to them, so hopefully they do it by email and I can just scan it in.

He said that the two people in front of him in the queue had the same forms.

Troy, a 30-year-old from Galway, was also changing his address.

I’m cutting it a bit close, I had prepared it last week but I was away over the weekend, so didn’t get a chance to write it up. But luckily, I work in town so it was handy to just come down today.

He said that the process to change an address was quite clear, but that it would be a more arduous process for someone who was voting for the first time.

For Tom, who’s a 22 year old student, it was his first time registering to vote. He said that the process wasn’t that difficult, but said that “if you could do it online it would be easier”.

He said he wasn’t too sure what to do next because he thought the Gardaí would take his form, but added “whatever I have to do, I’ll do it”.

Most of my friends are registered already. I knew it had to be done, I know it’s last minute but I’d planned on doing it today.

At Dublin City Council’s offices on Wood Quay, a queue of 20 or 30 people wanting to complete their registration or address change had formed by lunchtime.

Despite this, newly-registered voters said that they were only waiting 15 to 20 minutes, and that the process was very quick.

Some people did complain that they were told by their local civic offices that they wouldn’t take registration forms today, as they couldn’t guarantee that they would get to Dublin City Council’s offices by 5pm.

When TheJournal.ie asked Dublin City Council about this, they said that this was “a legislative deadline” and had always been stated clearly by the council on its website and in all communications with the public.

“Dublin City Council staff have made additional staff available in the Civic Offices to take in these forms,” it said.

Staff in other offices were requested to inform the public that forms received at area and other offices today may not make this deadline and advise them to get the forms to Civic Offices.

According to South Dublin county councillor Dermot Looney, there are over 3,000 new people that have registered to vote in that particular area in the past few weeks.

But another Dublin councillor, Paddy Bourke criticised the last-minute rush to register when asked if there were many people affected:

“On the horizon, there’s going to be a general election, there will be local elections and there’s a whole heap of referendums coming up,” he said.

Why would you leave registering so late? It’s hard to believe that it’s all so genuine, that there’s so many people trying to register today.

“It was my own fault I’d left it to the last minute,” Tommy who’s 24 said. “Three of us in the house decided to do it today, I’d registered in Cork because I’d just moved.

He said that there were a lot of young voters in the queue which was “good to see”.

The queue moved very fast, when I first came in and saw the queue I thought ‘Aww fuck sake!’

One person said that while she was queuing, she saw a couple of people walk in, look at the queue, and sigh before leaving again.

Another man, there for other business glanced at the queue and joked “Are they giving money away?” A man replied: “It’s to make a change”.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, Cork City Council said it received around 220 emails between Friday and this morning relating to registering to vote.

“We have also received approximately 600 forms between Friday and today. Forms are still being handed in to the reception desk. Numerous phone queries have also been received in the Franchise Office and also at the reception desk.

 It has been extremely busy today and has been for the past two weeks.

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