Earlier this week, the All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution released its final report. Amongst the various proposals in relation to electoral reform made by the Committee was a recommendation that the voting age for Dáil elections should be lowered from 18 to 17 years-of-age.
In terms of Article 16 of the Constitution, voting for Dáil Éireann candidates is currently limited to those over 18, while the age of eligibility for membership of Dáil Éireann (in relation to which the Committee did not make any recommendations) is prescribed as 21.
In addition, the Committee recommended that a voter education programme should be introduced as part of the senior cycle programme in second-level schools, to promote awareness of the right to vote among newly eligible voters.
In its report, the Committee highlighted that areas in the electoral system where improvements are required include ‘the political engagement of young people’ (p.16) The proposed reduction in voting age was consistent with submissions made by a range of international and domestic experts on youth voting and issues of youth citizenship more broadly (see pages 79-83 and 123-126). These submissions highlighted the link between reduced voting ages and increased voter turnout, the lack of political accountability of elected representatives to children under 18, and the discrimination inherent to the current situation in which Irish people under 18 can leave school, work and pay taxes but have no right to a say in democratic decision-making. Continue reading “SCS on Children's Rights: The Final Report of the Committee on the Constitution and Youth/Child Voting”