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Low turnout at polling stations.

  • 09-06-2024 6:22pm
    Registered Users Posts: 165 ✭✭

    Just been reading how the turnout of eligible voters for the elections on Friday did not exceed 50%, and a thought crossed my mind. What is the minimum turn-out in Ireland to make an election result legal? Or do we even have such a law?



  • Registered Users Posts: 18,542 ✭✭✭✭kippy

  • Registered Users Posts: 165 ✭✭theValheru853

    Why rightly so? While it is easy to say that it's everybody's choice whether they vote or not, some people got no choice. For instance anyone in hospital. I also heard yesterday that one of the local polling stations was closed when people went to vote at 9pm after getting home from work

    I just find it strange that an election can be legal when half the eligible population did not vote, whether willingly or unwillingly

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,409 ✭✭✭Quantum Erasure

    About the same or better than the last local elections,

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,998 ✭✭✭Gregor Samsa

    There's always going to be people who can't cast their vote for one reason or another. Unexpected admission to hospital, illness at home, being away from home for work, study or leisure, car breaks down on the way to the polling station at 21:55, sudden water leak in the attic that you have to deal with and can't leave the house. The list of possibilities goes on and on.

    You have a right to vote, not an obligation to vote. Your right to vote is accommodated as reasonably as possible - but like any right, there have to be practical limits to how far those accommodations go. For instance, there are accommodations available for people who are homebound due to illness or disability, and people who are long-term in hospital or nursing homes to vote remotely. But not every situation can be accounted for, especially last minute ones.

    Anyway, this has nothing do do with your original query about voting quorum. In the absence of compulsory voting, it would mean that elections would have to be re-run if a certain percentage turnout was not achieved. And that would mean that the electorate would not be represented in the meantime. You'd effectively be punishing the electorate (including the people who did turn out to vote), for the actions of the people who didn't vote. And what would happen if the second poll didn't meet the quorum either? A third poll? Then a fourth? Chance are that people will in fact be less inclined to vote as fatigue sets in with constant re-running of the election. This is not to mention the extra expense of re-running polls merely based on turnout.

    So implementing a quorum would be utterly impractical. One possible solution to your concern would be compulsory voting. And this is done in some countries, with fines for people who refuse to vote without valid cause. Australia and Brazil are two examples. The Netherlands had it until 1993. But globally, it's not a common feature of democracy. There's arguments for it and against it. Personally, I think that the non-participation in the democratic process is itself a democratic right.

    Regarding the polling station that you claim closed before 9pm - I'd be interested to hear where that was. I haven't seen any mention of it, and it would be a highly unusual occurrence, given that legally they have to stay open until 10pm.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,285 ✭✭✭prunudo

    There's a lot of people on holiday this time of year as it coincides with the start of the secondary school holidays.

    I do wonder is there merit in having a postal vote or a ballot box somewhere that is left open in a secure location, for say a week, for people who won't be around on polling day.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,590 ✭✭✭tohaltuwi

    The state can only encourage but not force people to vote. If one is cynical about the choice, it’s up to individuals to pick, in their opinion, the least worst options, because somebody else is going to decide. If people leave the choice to a relative handful of electors, that is on them. Goodness knows people have been very vocal in recent times, so it’s on as many as represent the quieter sector of the citizenry to put their stamp on the shape of our politics. There’s a moral duty to do your best to vote and maintain democracy IMO, democracy was hard won and can be lost in a heartbeat.

    Post edited by tohaltuwi on

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,657 ✭✭✭Pauliedragon

    I can't see it improving. My folks (mid 70s) know plenty of people who are hardcore FFG. Pretty much everyone of them are alligned to a party and would never give up the chance to have their say. My own circle (early to late 40's) not one I can think of are alligned to any party and see voting as a chore and as such if they're day is any way busy voting is the first thing that gets sacrificed.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,590 ✭✭✭tohaltuwi

    I remember when I turned 18 my father (born 1922), who was more usually a Labour voter, literally pushed me out the door to go to polling station, reminding me of the importance to vote, having explained the PR system. He told me to vote according to my own conscience, not be guided by his own political ideals, ie some disdain for FF.

    Later on in life, when my mother was elderly and I had to help her get to polling station and because of Rheumatoid Arthritis had difficulty holding the pencil steadily, I had to fill in voting form. I would ask her what her preferences were, but she would reply “you are still young it’s what might affect your future, that’s how I want to vote”.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,647 ✭✭✭Clo-Clo

    If people don't want to vote, they don't want to vote. Don't see why it makes any difference to the people that do go out and vote.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,293 ✭✭✭✭

    If the Europeans were held on their own I think the turnout would barely get to 40%.

    People don't care about the European Union.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,285 ✭✭✭prunudo

    And yet, they far more important than people give them credit for.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,983 ✭✭✭spaceHopper

    My mother is classed as house bound, she's 80 has chronic Parkinson's and she still managed to get down to vote.

    Lots of people in their 20 and 30's bitch moan and whine about how bad this country. I voted late on Friday, everybody around me was in their 40's.

    If you want change you have to vote, otherwise the established politicians have no need to listen to younger people's voices. They give zero fúcks about them because they don't vote.

    Maybe we should bring out voting over two days and make it compulsory

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,647 ✭✭✭Clo-Clo

    You have a history of very poor predictions. Don't let that stop you making more poorly thought out predictions.

  • Hosted Moderators Posts: 23,086 ✭✭✭✭beertons

    My parents haven't voted in years, they're always on holidays.

  • Registered Users Posts: 22,287 ✭✭✭✭endacl

    There are really only 3 duties placed upon the citizenry by the state. To abide by its laws, to pay through taxation for its upkeep, and to participate through elections in deciding how its run.
    If you ignore or run contrary to the first two, the state will come down on you like a ton of bricks. The third, not so much…

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,642 ✭✭✭Allinall

    I’m all for low turnouts.

    It makes my vote all the more influential.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,998 ✭✭✭Gregor Samsa

    This is nonsense. There's absolutely no duty to vote in Ireland, and that's why the state don't "come down on you like a ton of bricks" for not voting. To compare it to not abiding by the law or not paying taxes is meaningless, because they do have legal repercussions.

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,542 ✭✭✭✭kippy

    Its been stated already but there are always a number of people who cannot vote for one reason or another. But if you think that 50 percent of the eligible voters were in hospital or the polling station was closed for them?

  • Registered Users Posts: 68,511 ✭✭✭✭L1011

    The registers are a mess with duplicate registrations for people who have moved and so on - the actual turnout figure is higher than reported due to all those duplicates.

    They do usually remove those that have died from it, but they are very poor at tracking people who have moved, particularly across council boundaries.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,673 ✭✭✭Tenzor07

    Voter turnout was around the 49% last time I checked.

    For the last G.E it was around 62% nationally.

    The last referendum on care in the home was over 70% I think.

    Voter apathy is very high in Ireland, probably down to the fact that we don't have much choice.. FF FG are basically two sides of a coin. Greens/Labour/Soc dem. will support a FFFG led Govt. SF don't offer as much positive change as people want.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,673 ✭✭✭✭dulpit

    I wonder how accurate the polling registers are too. My mother used have a job with the Cork County Council to go door to door to check the register and arrange for errors to be resolved. I don't think this was done on a wider basis though.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,954 ✭✭✭✭Larbre34

    Absolutely not, because such an arrangement could NOT be done securely.

    I do agree that the expansion of postal voting should take place. It is uncommonly restrictive in Ireland. But I don't think it would make a massive difference to turnout for second-order elections.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,998 ✭✭✭Gregor Samsa

  • Registered Users Posts: 231 ✭✭mrpdap

    not to mention those who have emigrated but are still registered to vote w

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,448 ✭✭✭✭breezy1985

    Seems to be very common on Boards now for every election to have posters (usually new ones) "innocently" try to de-legitimate the election.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,012 ✭✭✭Genghis

    Most people are not aware, but you can actually register for a postal vote. I would say I am more politically aware than most and I only learned of this in some passing procedural comment from a count centre yesterday (i.e. the staff began by opening the postal votes).

    Here is more information. Perhaps someone in one of these groups (say a member of the Gardai, or long term illness) would be more aware of the option, but its certainly not an option I heard being promoted from any Commisúin, media, state or political party message where registration in the run up to an election was being advocated.

    From the above link:
    Most voters have to vote in person at an official voting centre. However, you may be eligible for a postal vote if you are:

    • An Irish diplomat posted abroad, or their spouse or civil partner who is living abroad with them
    • A whole-time member of the Defence Forces

    You may also be eligible for a postal vote if you cannot go to a polling station because:

    • You have an illness or disability
    • You are studying full time at an educational institution in Ireland, which is away from the home address where you are registered
    • You cannot vote at your local polling station because of your occupation, service or employment
    • You are unable to vote at your polling station because you are in prison as a result of an order of a court
    • You are a member of the Garda Síochána
    • You are registered as an anonymous elector, or you are part of the household of an anonymous elector

  • Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 39,450 Mod ✭✭✭✭Seth Brundle

    I'm not sure where you got your information on people not caring about the EU given that the vast majority of Irish people see our membership of the EU as being important for the country. (Maybe you are just expressing your own bias?)
    This importance has become even more evident since the UK made the [foolish] decision to leave and how the various attempts by some towards encouraging an Irexit have been nothing more than a laughing point.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,673 ✭✭✭Tenzor07

  • Administrators Posts: 13,947 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    And how would this be secured? Where would the ballot papers come from? Who would check the identity of the voters and if they are indeed entitled to vote?

    We have a system where people can apply for a special or postal vote in certain circumstances.

    You can be pretty confident that the huge majority of people who wanted to vote did so last Friday. There might be a very small percentage of people who were unable to vote for some reason, last minute illness, hospitalisation etc

    Of the 50% who didn't vote very very few of them were because they didn't have access to their polling station.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 21,852 ✭✭✭✭ELM327

    No, everyone has an opportunity to vote. If they decide not to vote, that's on them.