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Electoral Commission must be properly resourced and prioritise young voters

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 15:00

The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) has today (07.07.15) called on Government to ensure that the proposed Electoral Commission is properly resourced and prioritises the registration of young voters.
In a presentation to the Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Community and Local Government NYCI outlined the urgent need to address the under registration of young people, given that up to 30% of 18-25s were not registered in a Red C poll commissioned by NYCI in autumn 2014.

One of the many positives from the recent marriage equality referendum was the large number of young people who were registered and the significant turnout among the 18-25 year olds. This did not happen by accident, but was as a result of the excellent work of organisations such as USI, Belongto, Yes Equality and others. However on an ongoing basis it should not be the role of civil society organisation to make up for our deficient voter registration system. We need an efficient and well-resourced Electoral Commission to make sure our voter register is complete and accurate” stated Ian Power, President of NYCI.

NYCI also pointed out that the establishment of an Electoral Commission would facilitate the development of a centralised system for online voter registration. This would greatly assist those seeking to register for the first time as the current paper based system is outdated and cumbersome. An online process would also reduce the administrative burden on an Electoral Commission. NYCI is also proposing that an Electoral Commission should play a leading role in research to boost voter turnout.

However NYCI also informed the committee that an Electoral Commission cannot be expected to solve these problems unless it is properly resourced.

Based on our research the New Zealand Electoral Commission which has almost the same number of voters (Ireland 3.3m electors to New Zealand 3.1m) spent the equivalent of €12.5m* compiling and updating their electoral register. This is over two and a half times the €4.8m we spend in 2014. If we are serious about achieving an accurate, complete and user friendly voter registration system we need to ensure it has the resources to deliver a world class electoral system” concluded Mr. Power.

ENDS

For further information, please contact James Doorley, NYCI Deputy Director on 087 6483282 or 01 425 5955 or email james@nyci.ie

Notes to Editors:

*New Zealand Electoral Commission confirmed to NYCI that in the year to end June 2014 they spent 20.521m New Zealand Dollars (Euro Equivalent =€12.5m) compiling and maintaining their electoral rolls.

 

National Youth Council of Ireland

The National Youth Council of Ireland is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.