“It is premature and politically expedient to blame the low voter turnout for the Children’s Referendum on weekend voting”, according to Fine Gael TD for Dublin North Alan Farrell, who has recently published a Bill to legislate for weekend voting based on research that the majority of people who do not vote abstain due to circumstance.
“Non voters are divided into two categories, those who cannot vote due to circumstance, and those who are available to vote but choose not to.
“Research has show that rest-day voting has the potential to increase turnout amongst circumstantial non – voters, who make up two out of every three people who do not vote.
“Previous studies have pin-pointed three main reasons why someone would be a circumstantial non-voter. 50% of this group cited absence from their home town as the reason. 25% were people who were too busy with work commitments or family commitments, mainly surrounding child care, and 13% cited illness or incapacity.
“Studies of these groups suggest that rest day voting can improve turnout, even among those who are ill or tied up with family commitments as they have family and friends available to assist on polling day.
“It would be very easy for Government to come to a conclusion that low turnout was a result of Saturday voting, however in this instance there are a large number of factors to consider, such as many viewing it as a “fait accompli”.
“It would be my preference to see Government commit to Saturday voting over a series of elections and referenda, rather than one single event once every ten years.”