Youth Council welcomes Bill to extend voting rights to people aged 16 and over
Over 130,000 young people aged 16 and 17 in Ireland could vote in general elections, if Right to Vote at 16 Bill passed
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) – which represents organisations working with over 380,000 young people nationwide – has welcomed a Bill that will be brought for debate by Thomas Pringle, TD, in the Dáil today (23.06.21), that could eventually see voting rights extended to over 130,000* young people aged 16 and 17.
Paul Gordon, NYCI Director of Policy and Advocacy said: “NYCI welcomes the Right to Vote at 16 Bill being proposed by Deputy Pringle. We’re asking all TDs to support young people in their communities who have a stake and want a say in our democracy, by backing this Bill.”
“We have been campaigning for voting rights for 16 and 17 year olds since 2009, and today’s Dáil debate is a positive step in the right direction.
“Currently those aged 16 and 17, can leave school, seek full-time employment, be liable for tax, and join the youth sections of political parties, but cannot vote. We’ve seen the franchise successfully extended to 16 and 17 year olds in other jurisdictions including Austria, Scotland and Malta with positive results,” said Mr Gordon, outlining some of the reasons why the NYCI is calling for change:
The earlier young people engage in politics, the greater the chance that they will sustain a lifelong commitment to voting and participation in the democratic process. Since the introduction of Vote at 16 in Scotland, youth interest in politics has increased;
Through Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE) and the introduction of the Leaving Cert curriculum on Politics and Society, young people are well informed about the electoral system and their rights and responsibilities as citizens. They should have the right to not only learn about political participation but experience it through voting;
The extension of the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds was recommended by the Constitutional Convention in 2013, in 2015 the European Parliament endorsed a report calling for the voting age for European elections to be set at 16, and 80% of participants in the Citizen’s Assembly in 2018 voted to set the voting age at 16 to enhance voter turnout in referendums.
Mr Gordon concluded: “We will continue to campaign on this issue and look forward to working with Deputy Pringle and all parties, to make extension of the voting age a reality.”
For further information, please contact Daniel Meister, Communications Manager at NYCI on 087 781 4903 or email email@example.com
Notes to Editors:
National Youth Council of Ireland
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) 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.
*Source (CSO data):The PEA11 table on PXSTAT (https://data.cso.ie/table/PEA11) has the single year of age breakdown for our annual population estimates. The snip below show the estimated total for 16 and 17 year olds for 2021: OTHER BACKGROUND INFORMATION ABOUT VOTE AT 16
Constitutional Conventionvoted in favour – promised referendum never materialised
NYCI campaigned for a change in the voting age in the lead up to the 2011 General Election and the Government at the time subsequently referred the matter to the Constitutional Convention. In 2013, the Constitutional Convention voted in favour of extending voting rights to 16 and 17 years olds.
the Government failed to bring forward the promised referendum required to extend voting rights to young people aged 16 and 17 year olds in General and Presidential Elections and referenda.
In both 2017 and 2018 Senators Fintan Warfield and Lynn Ruane introduced legislation to extend voting rights to young people in time for the 2019 Local and European elections, which was not passed.