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McGahon calls for change in how people register to vote

McGahon calls for change in how people register to vote

Dundalk Councillor John McGahon has called for a change in the practice of how people register to vote in Ireland.

In a statement to Talk of the Town the Fine Gael representative said that now that the referendum is over we need a drastic overhaul of the Register of Electors, particularly in relation to registering to vote, moving your vote and automatically registering 18 year olds.

He said: “The recent referendum has shown me once again that the process of registering to vote or changing address is outdated and needs to be reformed. For example, if you want to register to vote, you need to download an RFA2 Form, go to a Garda station, have it stamped and then leave it into a council’s office. Having to jump through so many hoops to register to vote in this day and age is outdated and cumbersome.

“We need to move the process of registering or moving your vote to an online system. In the UK for example, you can register to vote or change your address online within five minutes, all that is required is a national insurance number. By moving it online, we are making it easier and simpler for people to keep their information up to date. Equally, it helps make the register more accurate. There are huge inaccuracies in our electoral register up and down the country and it’s leading to a bloated and incorrect electoral register.

“Also, during the recent referendum, I had so many people ask me were they still entitled to vote if they were abroad or in hospital. In the UK you can apply for a proxy for a single election on a specific date for circumstances such as being away on polling day, having a medical issue or not being able to vote in person because of work. I think we should also consider this.

“Equally, I would also strongly encourage the Government to consider ensuring that all eighteen year olds are automatically registered to vote. In 2017 alone, over 61,000 young people celebrated their 18th birthday. The National Youth Council of Ireland has proposed for many years that all young people should be automatically registered and this will dramatically reduce non-registration.

“The recent referendum has quite literally seen a revolution in terms of youth participation and if we are serious about continuing this trend we need to make the voting process easier and simpler,” said Cllr McGahon.

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