Fine Gael press for weekend voting

Fine Gael will this week try to force the Government into holding weekend elections to allow thousands of voters the chance to go to the polls.

Fine Gael will this week try to force the Government into holding weekend elections to allow thousands of voters the chance to go to the polls.

At present election days are held during the week preventing many students and young professionals from returning home to vote.

To address the issue Fine Gael will bring a Private Members Bill to the Dáil which the party claim will guarantee all elections are held on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.

At the same time in the Seanad, the Party will use private members time to introduce an almost identical motion.

Fergus O’Dowd TD, the party’s environment spokesman, said this will in effect create a roadblock in the Oireachtas and force Fianna Fáil to support the Bill.

Otherwise Mr O’Dowd said the Government partners will have to explain why they are so afraid of Friday voting.

“The Taoiseach has said that he favours Thursday voting for the general election but he never explained why he fears Friday voting so much when it is clear that it benefits voters,” Mr O’Dowd said.

The Fine Gael TD said in 1999 the European and Local Elections were held on a Thursday with a turnout of 50.21% but in 2004 the elections were switched to a Friday, with turnout jumping dramatically to 58.58%.

“Fine Gael is committed to ensuring that all those entitled to vote are given the maximum opportunity to do so and our Electoral Amendment Bill, that we are bringing before the Dail, will help to do this,” he said.

“We will also make certain that Fianna Fáil cannot dodge this issue by simultaneously introducing an identical motion in the Seanad on Wednesday.

“This Oireachtas roadblock will force all parties, especially those on the Government benches, to ’put up or shut up’ and either support our Bill or explain why they want to effectively disenfranchise thousands.”

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