Thursday 26 April 2018

Councils living in the past on voter registration, claims USI

Laura Harmon, USI president
Laura Harmon, USI president

Brian Byrne

A UNION representing more than 350,000 third-level students is calling for an overhaul of voter registration after it was revealed local authorities take vastly different approaches to the procedure.

A survey of the country's city and county councils showed as few as two provide online registration, while at least six refuse to accept scanned forms via email and insist that constituents continue to use postal mail.

President of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Laura Harmon said it was calling for a reform of the system "because as it stands there is a lot of disparity and conflicting information in relation to what a city or county council will or won't accept in relation to forms".

She said this could also include councils accepting or not accepting many forms in one envelope and accepting just the details of the person registering to vote or requiring details of all persons living in a house.

Ms Harmon said online registration should be available across the board, and notes that while this was the case in Mayo and Galway councils, "there was very little promotion of this fact to the general public".

She said registration becomes even more of a difficulty after the register of electors closes each November 25, as after this date constituents must have their form stamped by a member of the gardai.

"USI wishes to see one standard method of registering online as well as by paper. USI is also calling for one set of national standard guidelines on how to register.

"If we are to increase the youth vote, this is imperative and should be a Government priority."

A Red C poll commissioned by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) this month revealed that 30pc of those between the ages of 18 and 25 were not registered to vote in the local and European elections.

Ms Harmon said the USI had registered more than 1,000 students to vote this month.

Irish Independent

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