NYCI calls for Government to extend franchise to 16 and 17 year olds by 2024
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) – which represents organisations working with over 380,000 young people nationwide – has welcomed the introduction of new youth-friendly measures which mean 16- and 17-year-olds can pre-register to vote and the majority of voters aged 18 and over can now register to vote online. The NYCI says Government must go further however, and has called for action on the right to vote for 16 and 17 year olds.
Welcoming the changes Paul Gordon, NYCI Director of Policy and Advocacy, said: “Introducing pre-registration for people aged 16 and 17 is a very positive first step that will encourage young people to participate in our democracy and support increased voter turnout. Evidence from other jurisdictions shows it can increase democratic participation.
“However, Government needs to go further and examine the extension of voting rights to this age group. We know that 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,” continued Mr Gordon.
Certainty needed ahead of 2024 elections
Pre-registration was introduced in recent weeks as part of the Electoral Reform Act, and the NYCI is now calling for Government to follow through on commitments to examine changes to the voting age.
Mr Gordon said: “This summer, Minister Malcolm Noonan committed to asking the new Electoral Commission to report on the experience of other countries in extending the vote to those aged 16 and 17. The Minister rightly called for certainty on this ahead of local and European elections in 2024. To provide this certainty, this work should be one of the Commission’s first priorities.
“We know that funding will be provided for the Commission in 2023, and it is due to be formally established at the end of this year. With a short window until the next local and European elections, timely action is needed to ensure Government has the opportunity to act on any recommendations the Commission may make,” added Mr Gordon.
Call for young people to register online
“We have been campaigning to make the electoral register more accessible to young people over many years, so it is heartening to see reforms like pre-registration and online registration finally put in place. We encourage all young people to take advantage of the new, simplified, registration process and make sure they are on the electoral register,” concluded Mr Gordon.
The NYCI advises that any young person that is not sure if they are registered or not consult www.checktheregister.ie. If they are not already on the register, they can now register online on the same website.