Youth Council calls for overhaul of outdated registration system
Poll also indicates independents and Sinn Fein performed best among young voters in local and European elections
A new poll Red C poll commissioned by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) has found that 30% of young people aged 18-25 were not registered to vote in advance of the recent local and European elections. The problem is most acute among the 18-21 age group with up to 43% of this cohort not registered. On a more positive note, the poll found that 54% of those who were on the electoral register did vote in May. Young voters were also asked about who they voted for in the local and European elections and the results are outlined below.
Need to overhaul outdated registration system
James Doorley, NYCI Deputy Director, said: “We are concerned that the number of young people registered has actually decreased from 2009 when our report The Truth About Youth* found that 26% of young people aged 18-25 and 36% aged 18-21 years were not registered to vote.
“These findings demonstrate once again that the current voter registration system is outdated and failing and must be overhauled. The survey confirms anecdotal evidence that many young people who do want to vote are prevented from doing so because they are not registered in time.
Mr Doorley welcomed the commitment in the recent Statement of Government Priorities 2012-2014 to establish an Electoral Commission by 2015. However, he noted such a body has been promised by successive Governments since 2007.
“Action is now long overdue. Setting up the Electoral Commission is only the first step, such a body must review and reform the electoral registration system to bring it into the 21st century. Ideally, young people should be automatically registered when they reach voting age,” continued Mr Doorley.
Voting behaviour of young people**
The survey also asked young people how they had voted in the local and European elections.
Main findings –European Elections
- In the European elections 29% of young people voted for Independent candidates with 26% voting for Sinn Féin and 23% for Fianna Fáil.
- Fine Gael got 11% of the youth vote with Labour receiving 6%.
- Independents (+9%) and Sinn Féin (+6%) did significantly better among young voters compared to the elections results based on voters of all ages with Fianna Fáil (+1%) and Labour (+1%) doing marginally better among young voters.
Main findings –Local Elections
- In the local elections 27% of young people voted for Sinn Fein, both Independent candidates and Fine Gael recorded a vote of 22% with 20% voting for Fianna Fail and with Labour, Green Party and others receiving 9%, 1% and 1% respectively.
- Sinn Féin did significantly better among young voters at 27% compared to the 15% they received in the election, based on voters of all ages.
- Independents, (-1%) Fine Gael (-2%)and Fianna Fáil (-5%)all recorded a slightly lower vote among young voters compared to the elections results based on voters of all ages with Labour doing slightly better (+2%).
Commenting on the figures, Mr Doorley called on parties across the political spectrum to increase their efforts to connect with young people: “As noted by the OECD and others, young people have been hit hard by the economic downturn. The results of our poll show that a significant number are looking for alternatives to existing policies. No politician or party should take for granted or ignore young voters. With the next General Election about 18 months away we are calling on all parties and candidates to engage with young people and to set out how they plan to address youth issues in advance of that election.”
Notes to Editors:
*Source: http://youth.ie/sites/youth.ie/files/The_Truth_About_Youth%2009.pdf (Page 16)
National Youth Council of Ireland
NYCI is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people. Its members work with over 380,000 young people each year.
Red C conducted 412 face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of young people aged 18-25 throughout Ireland from the 17th June to 6th July 2014. Of these 51% were female and 49% were male. 50% were classified as being from the ABC1 social demographic group, 48% were classed as belonging to the C2DE social demographic group and 2% in the F category. In terms of nationality 93% of the participants in the survey identified themselves as Irish. The margin of error in the results is +/- 4.9%.