NYCI welcomes broad Seanad support of Vote at 16 Bill, but disappointment at delay
NYCI welcomed the widespread support garnered by the “Vote at 16” Bill, as it was discussed in the Seanad on Tuesday the 7th of November. The proposed Bill, introduced by Senator Malcolm Byrne, aimed to extend the vote to 16- and 17-year-olds for Local and European elections, a move that has gained momentum in recent years.
The gallery of the Seanad was filled with young activists and NYCI representatives during the debate, as Senators passionately discussed the potential benefits of granting 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote. Arguments in favour of the Bill included recognising the rights of young people to have a voice in matters that directly affect them, instilling the habit of civic engagement at an early age, and aligning Ireland with other European nations that have already adopted similar measures.
However, there was a sense of disappointment as the Bill’s progression was delayed by nine months. The decision to postpone its implementation until July 2024 was taken to allow the newly established Electoral Commission sufficient time to review the issue comprehensively and make recommendations.
NYCI expressed its concerns over the delay. The delay to the Bill until July effectively means that extension of the vote to 16- and 17-year-olds will not happen in time for the upcoming Local and European elections. NYCI believes that this kicks the can on legislating for change even further down the road and is hugely disappointing for the young activists campaigning on the issue. The opportunity to extend the franchise has been missed and realistically cannot happen until the 2029 Local and European elections.
Despite this, the debate on extending the voting age to 16- and 17-year-olds in Ireland continues, and the many campaigners, young and old, supportive of the measure will work to ensure it becomes a reality.