Referendums: Nearly 40,000 apply to vote in 48 hours before registration deadline

Boost for Government as 37,000 apply to electoral register in 48 hours before referendum voting deadline

22/05/2015 - NEWS  - Voters voting in the marriage referendum and the Age of Presidential Candidates referendum at St. Andrews Rescource Centre, Pearse street in Dublin.
Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Nearly 110,000 people have applied to the electoral register since last December when the Government announced the date of the forthcoming family and care referendums, with 37,000 people applying in the 48 hours before the deadline to register to vote.

The Department of Housing has also confirmed that the cost of holding the referendums on March 8th will be between €16 million and €17 million.

There has been concern in Government circles about a potentially low turnout for the family and care referendums, with Yes and No campaigners due to redouble their attempts to engage the public in the coming eight days.

Electoral Commission chief executive Art O’Leary said, however, that a “huge raft” of people had either applied to the new rolling register or had changed their details on the register in the week before the deadline closed in order to vote in the referendums, in a development which he described as “very positive”.


A spokesman for the department said between December 5th, when the Government announced details of the referendums, and February 20th, when the deadline to register to vote closed, 109,416 “new registration” applications had been made to local authorities online.

“Not all of these will translate into actual additions to the register as the figure will include pending electors and people not eligible to vote in the referendums.”

Furthermore, the department said that more than 37,000 applications to the register had been received in the 48 hours before the February 20th referendum deadline.

“The upcoming referendums are the first national electoral event in four years and the first since the commencement of part three of the Electoral Reform Act in October 2022 which paved the way for rolling registration enabling people to register to vote at any time of year – online as well as in paper form. Local authorities remain responsible for the management and maintenance of the electoral register. The last date for applications to the register of electors for the referendums on March 8th was February 20th,” the department said.


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“With the introduction of rolling registration under the new legislation, there is no longer a supplementary register, instead the rolling register closes for applications as indicated.”

While 37,000 registered in the 48 hours before the deadline, the department cautioned that not all of these specific application figures would translate into updates to the register specifically for the referendums.

“They may be, for example, applications to change address or to confirm existing entries on the register.”

Separately, every local authority is now required to prepare and maintain a pending electors list. This list enables the preregistration of 16 and 17 year olds, who are then transferred to the electoral register automatically when they turn 18.

As of mid-January there were almost 2,000 young people on this list.

The ultimate costs for the family and care referendums are currently being finalised, but the Electoral Commission said it had a budget of €3.5 million for the referendums.

“We will be calculating full costs when the campaign has been concluded and all costs have been discharged,” it said.

The Electoral Commission costs are associated only with the information campaign, however, with costs for polling stations, counting, polling information cards and other costs resting with the Department of Housing.

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Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times