A referendum on extending voting rights to Irish citizens overseas in Presidential elections is planned for May 24th, 2019, the same day as local and European Parliament elections, Senator Billy Lawless has said. Speaking at a meeting organised by the Votes for Irish Citizens Abroad (VICA) campaign in London, Mr Lawless said he had been assured by Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, that work was progressing on a Bill to be put before the people in a referendum, asking whether they agreed with extending the franchise to the Irish abroad. “The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney and Minister for the Diaspora, Ciaran Cannon are very committed to getting this referendum over the line. They will do everything he can to secure a Yes vote. So we have the Government’s support.”
About 130 countries and territories around the world have some system in place to allow their citizens to vote no matter where in the world they live, but Irish citizens lose their right if they have lived outside the State for more than 18 months. Those who fall within that time limit must travel back to their home constituency to cast their ballot, as there is no system in place for absentee voting except in very limited circumstances.
The proposed referendum will cover voting in Presidential elections only. It is not yet clear whether it will propose extending the vote to all Irish citizens living in the North and abroad, or limit it to Irish passport holders only, or those born in Ireland, perhaps with a time limit after emigrating.
Full Article: ‘Emigrants have been denied the vote for far too long’.