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People who become Irish citizens on 21 May won't be able to vote in Eighth referendum

This is because they can only show an intention to become a citizen in the period between 8 May and polling day on 25 May.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT HAS said that people who will become Irish citizens on 21 May won’t be eligible to vote in the Eighth Amendment referendum on 25 May.

To vote in the upcoming referendum, you need to be on the voting register by the 8 May (here’s an explainer on how to do that).

But if a teenager were to turn 18 between 8 and 25 May (inclusive), they would be eligible to vote as long as they register by 8 May (the minimum voting age is 18).

Despite this, the same logic doesn’t apply to new Irish citizens. In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the Department of Housing explained why that was:

“In order to vote, a person has to be on the register of electors or the supplement to the register of electors. Applications for inclusion in the supplement to the register must be received by registration authorities by 8 May 2018.”

More on that here:

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

“Eligibility for inclusion in the supplement to the register is determined by eligibility on the date of the application to the registration authority,” the department said.

Under Electoral law, ‘new’ citizens with effect from 21 May 2018 are not in a position to meet the citizenship requirement on 8 May 2018 and are therefore not eligible for inclusion in the supplement to the register at the forthcoming referendum.

“The Electoral (Amendment) Act 2015 addressed an anomaly that previously prevented ‘new’ citizens from registering to vote in their capacity as Irish citizens where they had not become citizens by the qualifying date for the register (1 September annually).

“The 2015 Act enables such ‘new’ citizens to apply for inclusion in the supplement to the register but they must do so before the closing date that applies generally for inclusion in the supplement.

There is no provision in electoral law for changing a person’s details on the register on polling day – the only way that new or altered registrations can be considered in advance of an election/referendum is by way of the supplement to the register.

“For practical and administrative reasons there has to be a cut-off point at which applications can be sent to and processed by registration authorities.

Commenting on the comparison between teenagers who will be eligible to vote after turning 18 between the registration day (8 May) and voting day (25 May), the Housing Department said that this issue had been raised with them.

It said that those who are due to turn 18 on or before the 25 May “also have to apply for inclusion in the supplement by 8 May 2018″.

Such applicants are in a position to provide evidence on the day of registration that they will be 18 on polling day (e.g. a birth certificate). They cannot vote on the basis of providing that evidence at the polling station on the polling day itself.
In the case of ‘new’ citizens, they can only show an intention to become a citizen in the period between 8 May and polling day on 25 May.

People can be added to the supplement register as is the case with those whose birthdays fall after the registration date, but because the citizenship ceremony is falling on 21 May, four days away from the referendum, and because they have no way of proving for certain that they will become Irish citizens on 21, it effectively means there’s no way for them to vote.

The Department of Justice said that approximately 3,400 people will formally become Irish citizens on 21 May, after receiving  certificates of naturalisation and taking the oath of fidelity to the nation administered by the Presiding Judge at the ceremony.

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