Category: Archive

Cast your ballot

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

With other nations, this would not be a contentious proposal. U.S. citizens, wherever they are in the world, have the right to vote. So do French nationals, and those of most other countries.
Yet successive Irish governments, be they Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labor Party or Progressive Democrats, refuse to extend the franchise beyond the Irish state.
For years, they argued that because Ireland had so many emigrants, allowing all citizens to vote would “skew” the democratic process.
Off the record, they pointed out that there were 600,000 Irish citizens in Northern Ireland, and they might have the temerity to use their vote to back whatever party was doing the most to reunite the country, rather than acting as electoral ballast for whoever was currently in power.
Irish governments have consistently rejected creating even a limited franchise for emigrants, for example by ring-fencing a constituency of 15 TDs for those overseas.
Their message is clear: emigrants are fine for investing in the Irish economy, but cannot be trusted with the vote.
There is, however, one very limited electorate that permits emigrants to vote. Most university graduates, even those living abroad, can vote to elect six representatives to the mostly ineffective Irish Senate.
This newspaper urges those U.S. residents entitled to vote: make sure the electoral office has your U.S. address by the deadline of Feb. 26, and cast that ballot. It is better than nothing.

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