Abortion referendum: last minute rush to register to vote

Garda stations and local authorities dealt with requests from would-be voters until 5pm

Voters going to the polls in the 1983 abortion referendum. File photograph: Pat Langan/The Irish Times.

Voters going to the polls in the 1983 abortion referendum. File photograph: Pat Langan/The Irish Times.

 

Local authorities reported a last minute rush on Tuesday of people seeking to register to vote in the May 25th referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

Garda stations and local authorities dealt with requests from would-be voters up to the 5pm deadline. The exact numbers who have registered will not be available until later this week.

Dublin City Council reported large queues at its Wood Quay offices, with some people seeking to register for the first time and others wishing to change their address.

A spokeswoman said its officials were “busy all day” dealing with registration but said all those who attended were accommodated.

A Galway City Council spokesman said he expected four times as many late voters will have registered as were added to the register for the marriage equality referendum in 2015.

He estimated 2,200 would have been added to the supplementary register, with 900 of those coming in the last two working days. This compared to a total of 500 added to the register before the 2015 vote.

The council had a garda officer at its reception on Tuesday to stamp people’s forms, making it a “one stop shop for voters”, he said.

“He has barely had time to draw breath. We’re keeping him going with coffee at the moment,” he said of the garda.

He said colleagues in the nearby Galway County Council office were sending many people up to the city council to have forms stamped and processed.

Asked about the general age of those registering, he said: “You can tell the demographic of them are quite young.”

A spokeswoman for Limerick City and County Council said it had been very busy but could not provide figures yet.

“There’s a huge interest. I just checked with the Register of Electors team, they said there’s a lot of forms being dropped in, a lot arrived by post, the inbox is full of queries and the phones are hopping,” said the spokeswoman.

The pattern was replicated in Cork city and county where both councils reported a noticeable increase in activity from people wishing to register and checking that they were able to vote.

A Cork City Council spokeswoman said staff had noticed a major surge in the number of young people seeking to register, with one estimate putting the figure of those calling to the city council’s franchise office at several hundred by lunch hour.

“It happens before elections too but it seems to be even bigger before the referenda...”.