Weekend election could hinder student voters

Roisin Phelan

USI President has said the Saturday general election may not be as accessible to students as planned.

Union of Students in Ireland President, Lorna Fitzpatrick has said that it is “very difficult to put a number on turnout” of students to vote, as it is the first election held on a Saturday in over 100 years.

Fitzpatrick spoke to The College View saying that although the date initially seems to facilitate student voters, it could hinder turnout.

“While the election taking place on a Saturday is accessible in some ways, there are also an awful number of students who are working over the weekends,” who will not all be able to get the day off to vote.

Fitzpatrick said that it is necessary for these students to work weekends, “for very long days and put an awful lot of hours in to try and put themselves through college and cover the rising cost of living.”

While trying to find time around or get time off work could be an issue for many students, location could also impact student’s ability to attend ballot stations.

Fitzpatrick noted that, “many of them [students] will be working in their university or institution town, which they may not be registered to vote in.”

According to research published by the ISSDA Growing up in Ireland Cohort in November 2019. Over two-thirds of Irish 20-year olds reported they had registered to vote and over one third had engaged in political activism in the last year.

Fitzpatrick said that the student vote could play an important part in the election saying, “It would be very foolish move of any candidate not to take the student vote very seriously.”

Fitzpatrick said although she can’t predict numbers, she expects that “students will turn out in force and have their voices heard.”

 

Roisin Phelan

Image Credit: USI