Close to 80 DCU students registered to vote on campus during Voter Registration Day, an initiative that took place across all college campuses late last month.
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) along with Spunout.ie organised the ‘National Voter Registration Day’ which took place on October 30th and kick-started three weeks of voter registration across the country.
University College Cork drew in the biggest amount of sign-ups nationwide with over 1,000 students registering to vote on the day.
DCU Law student, Domhnaill Harkin, organised a stand in the Henry Grattan on behalf of Spunout.ie and was surprised by the amount of interest from students on the day.
“We honestly were expecting thirty people, max. We got about eighty sign ups on the day but I thought we’d get a lot less”.
“I know that’s not a lot for a college of 12,000 students”, he admits “But that’s probably because people just didn’t know about it”.
Annie Hoey, Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship at USI estimates that over 5,000 students have signed up to vote since Voter Registration Day and she hopes that the number in DCU will increase before the final date of November 25th.
“Voter registration is something that doesn’t come across as overly sexy and as such, it can be difficult to get students enthused”, she says “USI and DCUSU will be running another day of voter registration where we are going to build on the numbers from the first voter registration drive”.
The Voter Registration Day coincided with a report in the Irish Examiner last week, which stated that only 26% of students voted in recent European Union elections.
Domhnaill points out that student apathy is a problem today saying “Young people just don’t care and are so far removed from politics. A lot of students just think ‘What does my vote do?’ and we need to change that”.
Annie also calls this report a “worrying statistic” and says that young people feel excluded from politics in general, but hopes that the upcoming referendums will be different.
“I think the marriage equality referendum will be different- young people will be able to see an immediate, tangible result from that referendum. Friends, family, classmates: their lives will be different after that referendum and thus it is something young people will care about”.
Voter Registration Day aimed to encourage young people to register to vote prior to the upcoming referendums next year. Referendums on the reduction of the voting age and marriage equality are both set to take place in 2015.
The final date to register to vote is November 25th and you can register online at checktheregister.ie.