The Referendum Commission has called on voters in Mayo to ensure their voice is heard in the referendum on the regulation of divorce, which is taking place today.
The Chairperson of the Referendum Commission, Ms Justice Tara Burns, said: "The Constitution belongs to the people of Ireland and can be changed only by them and not by Government, politicians or courts. However only those who actually vote end up having a say. This is your Constitution as much as it is anyone else’s, but if you don’t vote, you are allowing others make important decisions for you."
Ms Justice Burns said the referendum is about the regulation of divorce: "The proposal to change the Constitution has two parts. The first part of the proposal is to remove from the Constitution the requirement that a couple be living apart for four out of the previous five years before they can apply for a divorce. If the proposal is passed, it will mean that the Oireachtas can legislate about this issue in the future.
"The second part of the proposal relates to foreign divorces. A provision of the Constitution states that a person who has obtained a foreign divorce which is not recognised in the State cannot remarry. The proposal is to remove this provision of the Constitution and replace it with a provision which explicitly states that the Oireachtas can legislate to recognise foreign divorces.
"The important thing to do is to decide when you are going to vote on Friday, and then to vote. Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm. You need your ID, you need to know where your polling station is, and know how you’re going to vote. You will be given a green ballot paper for the referendum. You vote by marking ‘X’ in the ‘Yes’ box or ‘X’ in the ‘No’ box, depending on how you want to vote. The other ballot papers for, the European Parliament elections, local elections, and on directly elected mayors, will be different colours.”
“Factual information can be viewed on refcom.ie and we are strongly urging you to inform yourself and to use your vote. How you vote is entirely a matter for you to decide, but it is important that you take the opportunity to use your vote."
You don’t need to have your polling card with you when you go to vote. However, you should bring some valid form of personal identification such as a passport, a driving licence, a public services card, or an employee or student identity card with a photograph. Other forms of identification are also acceptable, such as a credit card or a birth certificate, as long as you also have another document which confirms your address in the constituency. You might not be asked for proof of identity, but if asked for it you need to show it.
On polling day, voters will be given a green ballot paper for the referendum.
Concluding Ms Justice Burns said: "Remember that voting in the European and local elections uses a different system, so read the instructions for voting on each ballot paper carefully."
The Referendum Commission, the independent body set up to explain the proposal of the referendum and promote voter turnout, encourages voters who are unsure about their decision to read its independent guide and to visit its website, www.refcom.ie, for unbiased facts about the Referendum proposal.