Sunday 21 January 2018

Students push envelope to get registered

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

NINETEEN students won their legal battle to vote in the general election yesterday after a "crazy" envelopes dispute.

They were among about 8,000 students who were helped by the Union of Students of Ireland (USI) to get their names on to the voting register.

But officials at Fingal County Council claimed that the students were required under electoral guidelines to send their forms in individual envelopes rather than in the single bulk envelope sent by the USI.

It rejected their applications and told them they had to go to an Appeals Court hearing beside the Four Courts complex in Dublin yesterday -- which accepted their application to go on to the voting register for the February 25 poll.

It comes as reports show that thousands of other people have applied in the last week to join the supplementary register to ensure they can vote.

Around 1,800 people applied to Fingal County Council, and several hundred more applied to Cork City Council.

In Galway city, 1,500 people applied to join but just 948 were added because many were found to already be on the register.

Councils have reassured voters that if they submitted their application before last Tuesday's deadline of 5pm they will be added to the register and their polling card will be posted to their home address.

There are already 3.1 million people registered to vote.

The 19 students turned down by Fingal County Council all had their applications to join the supplementary register granted by the Dublin County registrar Susan Ryan yesterday. They were not required to turn up in court.

USI president Gary Redmond said Fingal County Council had refused to process the students' applications in the single envelope -- even though it admitted it would process family application that arrived in a single envelope. "We've spoken to every local authority in the country and all of them were happy to accept the forms -- except Fingal," he said.

Fianna Fail Dublin North East candidate Averil Power, who highlighted the mix up, said there were lots of young people who wanted to vote in the general election. "Any bureaucracy that even delays someone getting on to the register is just crazy," she added.

A Fingal County Council spokeswoman said the electoral guidelines required applications to join the supplementary register to be made in person -- and, therefore, in a single envelope.

Irish Independent

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