Q1 : What does NYCI want?
A1. NYCI supports extending the right to vote in all elections and referenda to young people when they become 16.
Q2. Why does NYCI support this?
A2. NYCI believes in the principle of participation and the belief that young people should have a say in decisions and actions which affect them.
Q3. How can this be achieved?
A3. For the local and European elections, all that is required is for the Government to change the law, to allow young people aged 16 and 17 to vote in Dáil elections and referenda, a constitutional referendum is required.
Q4. What is the current focus of the campaign?
A4. NYCI is campaigning in advance of the local and European elections in 2019 to persuade the Oireachtas and Government to change the law to allow young people aged 16 and 17 to vote in those elections
Q5. Why should young people be given the right to vote at 16?
A5. NYCI believes that if a 16 or 17 year old can leave school, seek full time employment, pay taxes or join the army, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to vote.
Q6. 18 is the legal age of maturity, would lowering the voting age create problems?
A6. In some cases 18 is the legal age of maturity, however there are lots of exceptions, you can get a driving licence for a car at the age of 17, you can be charged with a crime from the age of 12.
Q7. Is this the solution to voter apathy among young people?
A7. No the solution to voter apathy among young people is for politicians and political parties to make themselves more relevant to young people, however this is an important step in giving young people a greater voice?
Q8. Are there other benefits?
A8. Yes, one of the biggest problems at present is the large numbers of young people aged 18-25 who are not on the electoral register. When young people are turning 18 years old, many of them are leaving school to go to college, training or work, so they are very mobile, so they are not registered. It would be much easier to register young people at 16 as the vast majority of them would be still at school.
Q9. Does registration matter?
A9. Yes, one of the main reasons why young people don’t vote is because they are not registered, if more young people were registered, voter turnout would increase.
Q10. What is happening in other countries?
A10. Scotland has led the way in allowing young people aged 16 and 17 years to vote in their 2014 Independence referendum. The turnout for this age cohort was 75%. In light of the success of the measure, the Scottish Government has now extended voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds for Scottish Parliamentary elections.
Austria also allows 16 and 17 year olds to vote in all elections. In 7 of the 16 Federal States of Germany the right to vote has been granted. In one Swiss canton, Glarus young people at 16 can vote. Further afield, young people can vote at 15 in Iran, 16 in Brazil and Nicaragua and at 17 in East Timor, Indonesia, the Seychelles and the Sudan.
Q 11: But would 16 and 17 year olds vote if they were given the right?
A11. Yes they will. In the Scottish Independence referendum 75% of young people aged 16 and 17 voted. The evidence from Austria and Germany also indicates that voter turnout among 16-17 year olds was higher than for 18-25 year olds and studies indicate that once people start to vote they are more likely to continue voting.
Q12 Are young people aged 16 and 17 mature enough to vote?
A12. NYCI believes that 16 and 17 year olds are well able to make decisions about political issues. The argument that young people are not mature or capable of making informed decisions is as ridiculous as the argument used in the 19th century against giving the vote the women because they wouldn’t be capable or understand. Such arguments are an insult to young people.
Q13 Do young people have information available to assist them to cast a vote?
A13 Yes, unlike previous generations all young people do a Civic, Political and Social Education (CSPE) course at school which gives them a much better understanding of the political system and their role in it. Also young people today unlike previous generations have access to information via the internet, so they can check issues and positions and make up their own mind.
Q14 Is there anything happening at EU level?
A11. Yes, in November 2015 the European Parliament voted for a report on electoral reform. One of the measures in that report was a recommendation that young people aged 16 and 17 should be able to vote in European Parliament elections.