A bill that could allow up to 120,000 young people aged sixteen and seventeen years to vote in next year’s local and European elections is being brought to the next stage in the Seanad on Wednesday March 21st at 3pm.
The Electoral (Amendment) (Voting at 16) Bill 2016 was proposed and sponsored by Senators Fintan Warfield and Lynn Ruane.
The Electoral (Amendment) (Voting at 16) Bill 2016
The bill would reduce the voting age to sixteen for local and European elections, giving young people the opportunity to have a say in political decisions.
In 2013, the Constitutional Convention, made up of 100 delegates including members of the public and politicians, recommended that the voting age be lowered to 16. The convention suggested that introducing voting at an earlier age could increase turnout among young people, as those who start voting early are more likely to continue throughout their lives.
This bill was put forward in 2016 to address the recommendations that came out of the constitutional convention. Last year the Seanad voted to delay the bill for 9 months because some parties wanted more time to examine and discuss the issue.
The bill is now going on to the second stage
What is the second stage?
During the second stage, the main points of the bill will be debated in the Seanad. If a majority of Senators support the bill, then it will become close to becoming law.
How to support the Bill
The National Youth Council of Ireland are calling on those who support the Bill to get involved and let their Senators know how they feel.
There are a number of things you can do:
- Email all members of the Seanad at [email protected] with a message of support (see sample below which you can adapt)
- Email specific Senators from your locality. The full list is here. If you are unsure which Senators are based in your locality email [email protected] with your general address details and the NYCI will find out for you.
- Tweet your support in the run-up to the debate using the hashtag #voteat16 (and follow @nycinews)
My name is X, from (town/county/city) and I am Y years old.
I am writing to you to ask that you support the progress of the Electoral (Amendment) (Voting at 16) Bill 2016 which is at Committee Stage in the Seanad next Wednesday.
This bill, if passed, would allow up to 120,000 young people aged 16 and 17 years have a vote and say in the 2019 Local and European elections.
In recent weeks the Oireachtas has been celebrating the centenary of the extension of voting rights to women. The Seanad could further celebrate that important decision by extending voting rights in 2019 to young people, to allow them to have a say in the election of local councillors and in our European Parliament representatives at such a crucial time. Over the last 150 years, despite opposition, Governments and Parliaments have strengthened democracy by spreading the electoral franchise. The Seanad has the opportunity to do likewise next Wednesday.
Also, the movement in Europe is towards #voteat16, other jurisdictions, in recent years Scotland and Austria have done so, and just last month Malta extended voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds. I believe it is not a matter of if, but when voting rights will be extended to 16 and 17 year olds, so Ireland has the opportunity to be in the vanguard of this democratic development.
I look forward to hearing from you,