The Electoral (Amendment) (Voting at 16) Bill 2016 proposed and sponsored by Senators Fintan Warfield and Lynn Ruane last year is moving onto the next stage in the Seanad next week, Wednesday 21st March at 3pm.
As you may remember this Bill would allow up to 120,000 young people aged 16 and 17 years to vote in next year’s local and European elections.
Last year the Seanad voted to delay the bill for 9 months because some parties wanted more time to examine and deliberate on the issue. That period has now expired and if a majority of Seanad members support it next Wednesday it will move onto the next stage and closer to becoming law.
However this will only happen if a majority of Seanad members support the bill next Wednesday.
That is why we need your help in the coming days and on next Wednesday.
You can support this Bill making progress to the next stage by;
- Emailing all members of the Seanad firstname.lastname@example.org with a message of support (see sample below which you can adapt) there is also more information and reasons why at http://www.voteat16.ie/nine_reasons
- Emailing specific Senators from your locality. The full list is here. If you are unsure which Senators are based in your locality email email@example.com with your general address details and we can provide this information.
- Tweet your support in the run-up to the debate using the hashtag #voteat16 (and follow @nycinews)
- Attend the committee stage debate next Wednesday, March 21st in the Seanad in Dublin. There are limited places so to express an interest to attend contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name and brief paragraph on motivation to attend. The deadline is Monday 19th March. If you are under 18 please make sure you attach a scanned/photograph copy of this parental/guardian consent form filled out in full, to your expression of interest email. Note: places are limited, so expressing your interest does not guarantee attendance. Successful applicants will be contacted on Tuesday 20th.
Draft email to Senators (edit as desired)
My name is X, from (town/county/city) and I am Y years old.
I am writing to you to ask that you support the progress of the Electoral (Amendment) (Voting at 16) Bill 2016 which is at Committee Stage in the Seanad next Wednesday.
This bill, if passed, would allow up to 120,000 young people aged 16 and 17 years have a vote and say in the 2019 Local and European elections.
In recent weeks the Oireachtas has been celebrating the centenary of the extension of voting rights to women. The Seanad could further celebrate that important decision by extending voting rights in 2019 to young people, to allow them to have a say in the election of local councillors and in our European Parliament representatives at such a crucial time. Over the last 150 years, despite opposition, Governments and Parliaments have strengthened democracy by spreading the electoral franchise. The Seanad has the opportunity to do likewise next Wednesday.
Also, the movement in Europe is towards #voteat16, other jurisdictions, in recent years Scotland and Austria have done so, and just last month Malta extended voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds. I believe it is not a matter of if, but when voting rights will be extended to 16 and 17 year olds, so Ireland has the opportunity to be in the vanguard of this democratic development.
I look forward to hearing from you,