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‘Huge’ public engagement with referendum campaign

The independent chairperson of the Electoral Commission has said there has been “huge” public engagement with the current referendum campaign and that she hopes there will not be a low turnout on Friday.

Meanwhile, the commission has revealed that over 200,000 have checked the register in recent weeks to make sure their details are correct and hopes this will boost turnout on the family and care referendums.

Ms Justice Marie Baker, the chairperson of the Electoral Commission, has been taking part in dozens of media interviews and public events in recent days to impart information to voters and also to encourage them to vote.

Today she visited Wexford Library and took part in a question and answer session with members of the public, before travelling to Kilmore Quay to meet with fishermen at the harbour.

“It’s to inform people,” she told RTÉ News in relation to the purpose of such events. “It’s to answer their questions, remind people there’s a vote, remind people to go out and vote, why it matters.”

Asked if she thinks it is possible there will be a relatively low turnout on Friday, she said: “It’s possible but I hope it’s not going to be the case because it does matter that people vote.

“It’s a privilege to be able to vote on what’s contained in your constitution, not every country has that, so I would encourage people to go and vote and tell them that they can’t really complain, if they don’t vote, if the constitution doesn’t say what they want it to say.”

In relation to the level of public engagement she has seen with the issues in recent weeks, Ms Justice Baker said: “I think the level of engagement has been huge.

“We started off at quite a low level, just reminding people of the date and reminding people what it was about but in fact the questions have got more and more difficult, but more and more measured as well.

“People are prepared to listen, prepared to measure it. This is ultimately a choice for every individual voter: What do I think I want and what do I think it means?

“You must read around and you must also read the kind of material we prepare which is objective and and which is impartial.”

Art O’Leary, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission

Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, Art O’Leary, said the commission is hoping to persuade as many people as possible to vote on Friday.

“As we have been explaining, your vote is your voice. If you don’t turn out, then you allow other people to make decisions for you,” he said.

He said the commission has been “greatly heartened” by the fact that 37,000 additional people have registered to vote in the last 48 hours, in the run-up to the deadline for registering, while, “since we started our campaign to check the register, over 200,000 people have logged on, checked the register, updated their details and signed on to vote for the first time”.


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