Wednesday 14 November 2018

Sinn Fein proposes lowering voting age to 16

The party has launched a document on electoral reform.

A polling station in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)
A polling station in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, Press Association

Sinn Fein has proposed lowering the voting age in Ireland to 16 in a bid to reform the electoral system.

The party launched its document on electoral reform on Thursday, and said lowering the voting age is the pathway to participation for young and first-time voters.

The document also proposes extending voting rights to those who have been resident in the state for more than five years.

Party spokesman for youth affairs, Senator Fintan Warfield, said the government should not gate-keep voting registers and should allow as many people as possible to vote, opening Seanad elections to all.

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Fintan Warfield (Mark Marlow/PA)

“This document really follows the Repeal the Eighth movement and identifies how Sinn Fein believe the state should engage young and first-time voters, and radical proposals to reform the electoral system,” he said.

“We think that begins with a permanent electoral commission.

“The government has previously responded to electoral issues with commitment to create a permanent electoral commission yet we have not seen any development on that front.

“We believe an electoral commission should oversee registration processes, registration processes should be national, should promote registration and collect data on the basis of age.

“We’re also looking at electoral reform and lowering the voting age to 16 and 17 in all elections and extend voting rights to people have been resident in the state for over five years.

“It’s not good enough that we gate-keep the system, and Sinn Fein believe as many people as possible should be able to vote, that includes emigrants abroad, people in the north in presidential elections, people who have never voted in Seanad elections, who may not be citizens; they’re entitled to vote.”

A number of Government reports have recommended the establishment of a permanent electoral commission to aid the democratic process.

The Programme for Government committed to establishing such a commission during its term of office but initially said it would not be ready for the 2016 election.

Critics say the government has provided no firm details or timeline for establishing a commission.

The Citizens’ Assembly approved a number of proposals in January including 94% in favour of a permanent Electoral Commission.

In May, Fianna Fail and the Green Party called on the government to establish a permanent electoral commission, saying it was urgently needed.

Press Association

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