Voting is one of those things that many of us twenty-somethings can take or leave. Sure, it’s great to know we CAN cast a vote, but lots of us simply don’t bother, especially when it comes to smaller things like local elections.
That’s why, for the past few weeks, your Facebook and Twitter timelines have no doubt been full of reminders to get registered by November 25th, which is the closing date to be listed on the 2015 register of electors.
Next spring, one of Ireland’s most important referendums will take place – the vote for marriage equality in Ireland. It’s been a long road for Ireland’s LGBT community and this is one of the biggest steps the country has taken so far.
The government does legally recognise same-sex civil unions for couples who have chosen to get married in other countries, but it’s currently not an option for gay and lesbian couples to marry on Irish soil.
Even if you aren’t up to date with voter turnout figures in Ireland, you can probably guess (correctly) that our over 65’s vote more than any other age group. But in a referendum like this one, it’s Ireland’s younger adults that need to stand up and make their voice heard.
Recent statistics show that 30% of Ireland’s 18 – 25 year olds are not even registered to vote. Worse again, when you look at the 18 – 21 year old age group, just 43% of them are on the register. For something that is so simple to do – it’s a matter of filling out a form, getting it stamped and sending it off – it’s slightly disheartening that the numbers are as low as they are.
One of the most well-known Irish advocates for LGBT equality is Rory O’Neill, a.k.a. drag queen Panti Bliss. His “Noble Call” speech brought Ireland’s equality journey to a global stage earlier this year, when he spoke beautifully on stage at the Abbey Theatre about oppression and homophobia.
The video soon went viral, sparking huge debate about this country’s attitudes to homosexuality.
This referendum, as well as making Ireland a more equal place for everyone, is also our way of showing the rest of the world that we are becoming more modern and open and considerate. What a pity it would be if the result was skewed simply because too many of us had failed to register on time.
Maybe you’re an LGBT person, maybe your best friend is, or your brother or sister. Maybe the person sitting next to you right now is. Whoever this referendum affects in your life, be it everyone you know or just one or two people, it’s important that we don’t let our laziness get in the way of a fair vote.
If you’re not registered make sure you fill out that form this week and get yourself on the list. If you’re registered in your hometown but are living elsewhere in Ireland, it’s equally important to note your change of address so that you can vote on the day. Check the register here, download the forms, and make sure your vote for change is counted!