Over 20,000 students registered to vote in marriage equality referendum

Over 20,000 students have been registered to vote ahead of the upcoming marriage equality referendum as part of a nationwide voter registration drive.

The total number of students registered to vote came to 20,210 in over 20 campuses nationwide, with over 800 students registered in DCU alone.

The drives, organised by students unions and organisations, were held with the aim of registering students ahead of next year’s marriage equality referendum, which is due to be held in spring.

YesEquality, a civil marriage equality coalition group formed by GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network), Marriage Equality and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, co-ordinated with unions and organisations in support of the drives.

UCD gathered an estimated 4,500 voter registrations during the week long drive, while UCC and Trinity rounded up over 3,000 registrations each.

Hannah Whelan, who was involved in running the drives in DCU, said that she was “surprised by how many people didn’t seem to know about the referendum”.

“I think students need to realise the importance of their vote in this referendum because we really need young people voting.”

Student voter registrations increased significantly between Novemeber 1st and 25th as the RFA1 form was distributed out to students at the drives. The form requires just a name, address and date of birth and is perceived as the most straightforward method of registering large numbers of voters.

Laura Harmon, President of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), said that students’ unions “should be proud of their work to double the target and get so many students primed and ready for the polling booth”.

USI’s initial target was to get 10,000 students registered. She said that “students have historically been a potent force for equality – many of those registered in the last few weeks have never cast a ballot, but have decided to convert their voices to votes for the issues they believe in”.

Elaine Carroll

Image: Deirdre O’Sullivan

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