Irish Emigrants Choose Michael D Higgins As Next President
Labour candidate Michael D Higgins has emerged as the number one choice for Irish citizens abroad in the 2011 Ballotbox.ie Presidential Election.
Following six days of voting, 2,581 people took part in the online election which served as a symbolic poll in the place of a real vote, of which Irish emigrants are denied.
Michael D Higgins polled at 40% of the first preference vote with Senator David Norris coming in second with 24% , followed by Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness in third with 18%. Sean Gallagher finished fifth with 10% while both Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell and Independent Mary Davis came with 3%. Dana Rosemary Scallon came in with 1% of the vote
Voters from over 97 countries took part with the UK, US, Australia, Canada and Germany providing the most votes. Other votes came from Estonia, Malawi, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Dublin South, Cork South Central and Dun Laoghaire were the three most popular constituencies.
Carried out over six days on www.ballotbox.ie, 2,581 Irish emigrants in 97 different countries voted in the poll. IP technology was used to block voters in Ireland, and passport information was used to discourage non-Irish people from voting.The aim of the site was to highlight that Irish emigrants are immediately disenfranchised upon leaving the country. This is in stark contrast to many other democracies, including the United States, the UK, Australia, Canada, and most EU countries.An estimated 3.1 million Irish passport holders live abroad, with 800,000 being Irish-born.More than 40,000 Irish people emigrated in the 12months ending April 2011, with 28,000 people having left the year before. Ballotbox.ie advocates a change in the law so that recent emigrants who have been resident in Ireland within the past 5, 10 or 15 years retain their vote.
Eight months on from the 2011 General Election and there has been little progress in the fight for voting rights for Irish people abroad. Started by Irish emigrants, Ballotbox.ie saw over 5000 Irish people vote in the General Election from abroad, giving them a voice which the Irish government had refused to offer.
Unlike so many other countries Ireland does not offer its citizens the right to vote if they reside outside of the 26 counties.
With so much talk of the need to harness the global Irish community to help Ireland get back on it’s feet, it seems the powers that be are failing to grasp the importance of keeping recent emigrants involved in the national conversation.
The extension of voting rights to all Irish citizens who have been registered to vote in the past 5,10 or even 15 years (like they do in the UK) is our aim and with the levels of emigration we have seen in the past few years it is clear the time is ripe for a change in policy.
Here is a short interview we did with Newstalk earlier today.