The sign up numbers for societies might indicate not. In a university of 10,000 students less than 150 are ever members of a political society. Assuming, of course, that none of them joined more than one.
Independent Presidential candidate Sean Gallagher came to DCU this week and swept through the Venue, shaking hands with every volunteer at every Club or Society table. Well, nearly all of them. Somehow he seemed to bypass the Fianna Fail stand entirely.
Ogra Fianna Fail was the biggest political society in DCU last year. The numbers stagnated by refreshers’ day and plummeted again last week. The society’s membership seems to reflect the party’s standing in the polls which sinks lower and lower each day.
DCU’s Young Fine Gael are the biggest society although their stand featured no high profile guests this year. Maybe that was for the best – as numbers actually dropped last year after a visit from soon to be Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Labout are powering away as always, bright and enthusiastic and always a little worried about making quota for membership.
Most Union Council’s I’ve ever been at have struggled to make quorum, hustings for SU elections draw ever more pitiful numbers every year and there’s a reason why candidates for SU elections canvass with sweets outside polling stations every year – they know that nothing short of bribery would persuade many students to vote.
So why not? Most people agree that voting is a human right. The problem is that when it comes to a choice between walking to a polling station and sitting happily and eating a chicken fillet roll, most people chose the easier option.
Online voting would help hugely and would mean that students didn’t have to travel the long distance home just to put a number beside a name.
Only 71.2% of Irish people aged 18-25 are registered to vote, dropping to 64% in those between 18-21. Being registered however is only one thing.
For every registered person under 25 years of age who voted in Ireland during the boom years , there were two who did not.
One Dublin South Central by-election had the lowest turn-out in a ballot ever recorded when over seven in ten voters stayed away on polling day.
If people become disillusioned enough with the political process they’re not going to put their energy into taking part in a system that’s broken. Fine, why should they?
The danger of not voting – of deciding that your one tiny vote would never make a difference – is that everyone does it. Action groups for the elderly have proved extremely efficiant at mobilising their members to vote. If enough of us vote we can win or lose a seat, change the number of party TD’s elected, turn the tide of an election.
If enough of us vote, politicians will have to take students seriously and start working towards our issues – like the extremely pressing problem of the €2,500 registration fee that none of us want to pay.
So I know the Presidential Election doesn’t mean anything – but it’s still fun, right? So are you going to vote in it? Do you have to go all the way home to do it or did you remember to register in Dublin? Let us know on our lovely shiny new website