There has been an “unprecedented” surge in voter registrations ahead of Ireland’s referendum on the Eighth Amendment – the law that effectively makes abortion illegal.
Up to 125,000 people will likely be added to the supplementary electoral register between February and the recent deadline of 8 May ahead of the crucial vote on 25 May.
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), which represents organisations working with over 380,000 young people said there had been “unprecedented surge of voter registration”.
It estimated a 90 per cent increase in the numbers compared to the marriage equality referendum in 2015.
If the returns received by NYCI from 14 city and county councils to date, are replicated in all 31 city and county councils, would indicate that up to 125,000 people have been added to the supplementary electoral register between February and May.
James Doorley, NYCI deputy director, said many of the registrations had come from younger voters.
“It is really heartening that so many young people responded to the call by NYCI and others and took the opportunity to register”, he said, adding that a number of student groups had mobilised to help people.
“It is important to note that not all those added to this latest supplement to the register are young voters. Some undoubtedly are not in the 18 to 29 age bracket, or are electors changing the location of their vote.”
If people vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment, the Irish government is proposing that women could access a termination within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
After that period, abortions will only be allowed until the 24th week of pregnancy if here is a risk to a woman’s life, or a risk of serious harm to the physical or mental health of a woman.
Terminations would also be permitted in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.
Under current law, rooted in the Eighth Amendment to the Republic of Ireland’s constitution, the unborn child the same right to life as the mother.
The maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison.