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Event: Monday June 29, 11am
Buswell’s Hotel, Oak Room

The Union of Students in Ireland today (Monday, June 29th) launched its position paper on voter registration reform.

Key recommendations include:

  • Making online voter registration an option
  • Voting rights for citizens abroad via Irish Embassies
  • Using PPS numbers and removing the need for Gardaí to stamp forms
  • Updating information on Checktheregister.ie
  • Standardised and well-publicised information from Government on the process
  • An investment in campaigns to promote voter registration to those about to reach the age of eligibility
  • The exploration of moving to automatic voter registration

USI directly registered nearly 28,000 students to vote ahead of the marriage equality referendum and handed out tens of thousands more forms. As a result, the organisation has developed an in-depth analysis of problems inside the current system for the registration of voters – and ways to fix them.

USI President, Laura Harmon, said:

‘Being registered to vote is essential for citizens to fully participate in our democracy. Registering
should be a simple and efficient process. However, the current system in Ireland is outdated, arduous and unnecessarily complicated.

There are many practical changes that could be implemented in the short term. Checktheregister.ie contains much outdated information and County and City Councils were providing conflicting messages in relation to whether they would accept forms in bulk or in individual envelopes. Standardised information on the process should be produced and promoted post haste.

England and many States in the U.S. have the option of online voter registration – this would be an excellent step to making the system here more accessible. Automatic voter registration is being discussed in the U.S. at the moment and this is something we believe should be explored in Ireland.

The need for Gardaí to sign forms for the supplemental register could be replaced using PPS numbers and making producing identification obligatory at polling stations.

The nation was in awe at the amount of citizens who returned home to vote on May 22nd. We should follow the example of over 100 countries worldwide and allow all citizens abroad to vote at Irish Embassies.’

Ms Harmon outlined the proposals for reform at an event at Dublin’s Buswells Hotel on Monday.

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