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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 28 February, 2020

Are you registered? Special sessions organised to get people on the list before tomorrow's deadline

The response to one event held in Cork was “unprecedented” and “unexpected”. The deadline for registration is tomorrow at 5pm.

Image: Cork Votes

A NUMBER OF local, grassroots groups have been encouraging people to register to vote ahead of polling day on 8 February by hosting a number of events.

There were 3,367,556 Irish citizens who were entitled to vote in the Eighth Amendment referendum – around 61% turned out to vote (or 2,159,655 people).

The turnout was lower for the local and European elections last May, at around 49%; it’s more likely that the turnout for a general election will be similar to that referendum than the local elections.

Those who want to vote in less than three weeks’ time only have until 5pm tomorrow to do so:

  • You’ll need to fill out the RFA2 form, or the supplementary form;
  • You’ll need to fill it out and get it stamped at a Garda station (bring photo ID);
  • You then submit it in person to your local authority

If you’re in the Dublin area and have a MyGovID login, you can register online on the site, a pilot project to make voter registration easier.

If you registered to vote in the past 12 months using a yellow and white RFA form, then you’ll need to register again to be put on the supplementary register (a black, grey and white form) to ensure you get your polling card in time for 8 February (the reasons for this are complicated).

A number of local authorities are adjusting their hours or holding events to help people to register to vote in time.

Dublin City Council‘s Civic Offices at the Wood Quay Entrance is staying open until 7pm today to make it easier for people to register to vote ahead of tomorrow’s deadline. It’s offices are open until 5pm tomorrow.

Limerick City and County Council hosted a four-hour event in Merchant’s Quay today from 10am-2pm to help people to register on time, where a garda was present to help stamp people’s forms.

Tomorrow, Galway City Council will hold a “special day of registration” for those in the Galway city area at City Hall. Council staff and members of An Garda Síochána will be there to help people to register in time.

Tweet by @Union Of Students In Ireland Source: Union Of Students In Ireland/Twitter

A photo shared on Twitter of a crowd of people queuing at Trinity College Dublin to register to vote indicated that there could be an increase in young people registering to vote immediately before the election.

The National Youth Council of Ireland has highlighted that there are up to 696,543 young people aged 18-29 years old who are entitled to vote in the coming election.

To those who recently turned 18, the Youth Council encouraged them to vote. There are 89,000 young people in the Dublin City Council area, 56,000 people in the Cork County area, and 30,000 people in the Limerick City and County Council area. 

Lorna Fitzpatrick, the President of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) told that there have been “huge surges” and long queues of people registering to vote at college campuses, but this wasn’t unusual in the lead up to an election.

“Every year we put our voter registrars out,” she said, adding that the queues they were getting in the past couple of days represented a “massive surge”  but it’s not something necessarily unusual.

She said that students are “politically active in terms of registering to vote”, and that there were a number of election issues that students were particularly exercised about.

Students are interested in specific issues, Fitzpatrick said, and will vote on “concrete policies on higher education funding, mental health supports, and climate action is a massive one”.

Cork Votes, a group that aims to increase turnouts in elections, said that they helped over 200 people register in two hours on Saturday, and distributed information to others. 

Pádraig Rice, co-organiser of Cork Votes said that he didn’t expect so many people to turn up to vote, and that it “reinforced our belief that if you make it easy and accessible people will turn up and they will engage”.

“We removed all the possible barriers by providing the forms and had a Garda on hand so that form could be completed there and then. Most importantly it was at a time and place that suited people.”

The group said that 17 and 18 year olds were getting in touch to ask how to register to vote: “It seems that some people aren’t receiving adequate political education in school.”

Aisling Ryan, co-organiser with Cork Votes said that the two main reasons people cited for coming to register with them were “confusion over what form they needed to fill in, and the difficulties associated with getting to a Garda station to get forms signed because many Garda stations now have reduced opening hours”.

“People had travelled from towns well outside the city including Macroom and Mallow to register on Grand Parade,” she said.

To young people who feel they don’t know enough about politics to vote, Fitzpatrick advised them to register to vote before close of business while they can, and look out for information the USI would be sharing about political parties and how to vote.

USI will be releasing information before election, and advised young people to ask questions and read the parties’ manifestos in order to “have your voice heard” on 8 February. 

She said that the USI Election 2020 manifesto was calling on access to quality education, an equal health system, a sustainable society, and a welcoming nation – the latter in reference to students threatened with or facing deportation.

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