The Referendum Commission launched a nationwide campaign to encourage people to make sure they are registered to vote on the forthcoming referendum on the regulation of divorce which is taking place on Friday 24th May, the same day as the European Parliament and Local Government Elections.
The Chairperson of the Commission Ms Justice Tara Burns visited Letterkenny in the first event of the campaign. She spoke to a meeting of Letterkenny IT students and distributed voter registration forms to those in need of them.
The Referendum Commission will over the coming weeks be running TV, radio, online and social media advertising to urge people to check at checktheregister.ie to see if they are registered. While the Commission’s remit covers the referendum only, being on the electoral register will allow you to vote in the referendum and the European and local elections.
Ms Justice Burns said: “In order to vote, your name has to be on the register of electors for the address at which you normally live and checking if you are registered is really very simple, you can find out by checking at www.checktheregister.ie or you can also check the register in local authority offices, post offices, Garda stations and public libraries.
“In this referendum we will be asked to vote on a proposal to change the Constitution of Ireland in relation to divorce. The Constitution is the basic law in Ireland. It can only be changed by a vote of the people. A Constitutional Referendum, like the one on May 24th, is one of those occasions where an important decision is not taken by the Government or the Oireachtas or the courts. Only the people get to decide. It is your day, so make sure your voice can be heard by registering today.”
She continued: “Just 33.68% of the registered voters in Co Donegal voted in last year’s referendum on blasphemy. This was the second lowest turnout in the country, after Dublin Central. It is important for every county and age group to have their say, and we would urge people firstly to ensure they are registered but also to actually exercise their vote on May 24th. If you don’t take part in the decision, then others will take the decision for you.”
During her visit to Letterkenny Ms Justice Burns also visited the home of Una Black, a Letterkenny woman who features in one of the television advertisements the Referendum Commission will be running in the coming weeks. The Commission will be showing a series of advertisements featuring voters from around the country talking about the importance of voting. The ad featuring Ms Black can be seen here: https://www.refcom.ie/current-referendums/regulation-of-divorce/vote-with-me/
If you find you are not registered, you can make sure you are added to the supplement to the register by completing a form which you can download from www.checktheregister.ie, or obtain from your local authority, Garda station, post office or public library. Then you bring the completed form to your local Garda station to have your identity certified, and ensure it gets to your local authority before May 7th.
People ordinarily resident at a hospital, nursing home or similar institution who are unable to vote at a polling station can vote at their hospital or nursing home, but only if they register on the Special Voters list. The closing date for this is April 28th next and application forms are available from your local authority, library, post office, Garda station or at www.checktheregister.ie
Sunday April 28th is also the deadline to apply for a postal vote. These are available to certain people including Irish diplomats and their families posted abroad, members of the Garda and Defence Forces, prisoners and others who are unable to vote at their local polling station because of their occupation, service or employment. Students studying full time at an educational institution in Ireland, which is away from the home address where they are registered, can also apply.
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