Promenade, a music & technology blog, penned by Eoghan O'Neill.

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Rock The Vote: A spine free zone?

May 24

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Thursday, May 24, 2007  RssIcon

The Irish Rock the Vote initiative has been getting a bit of a hammering from many quarters. And the criticisms – the banality / pointlessness of the videos, the refusal to advance even a single issue of importance to their target audience, the obsessive neutrality of everything they do, etc – are (no pun intended) rock solid.

Now it transpires that, as Rev Jules pointed out yesterday in his blog, their Executive Director has gone on the record that he does not expect a big increase in the turn out of 18-30 year olds...

It could have been all very different. Aside from apathy, non interest in politics, and a preference for spending one's time on the pull, there are two other key barriers to getting a greater proportion of 18-30 year olds voting. Yes, I'm talking about the old chestnuts...

  • Not being registered to vote (or being registered to do so in another part of the country from where you live / work / study),
  • The (since time-eternal) imposition of the party in power of a week day election.

Alas, Rock The Vote by launching only last month eliminated any possibility of having even a stab of a chance at breaking down either of these two well-established barriers. They've truly put the cart before the horse. Maybe if they had launched back at the tail end of the summer 2006 - just as the colleges were about to open for another academic year - they could have channeled their enthusiasm and considerable resources on getting the yuff of Ireland to register to vote (or move their registration to where they live/study/work) before the Nov 2006 December 2006 deadline for updating the voter lists. With that tackled (and in the process maybe bagging a bit of credibility and respect) they could have been well positioned to orchestrate a high profile campaign to heckle, bully and pressurize the Government into calling an election that, in line with most of continental Europe, actually fell on (God forbid) a weekend.

But forget the trite videos, forget the refusal to embrace a single issue of importance to 18-30 year olds, forget the enforced fence-sitting of the initiative. Because here is where for me it gets really, really insane: RTV's Executive Director is on the record as saying they that it is their strict policy "not to comment on the day we believe polling should take place"! To say I was gob smacked would be a massive understatement. They would not even be prepared to campaign for a weekend election day? Up to reading that I was prepared to give them a wide berth, with an assessment along the lines of them being a bunch of idealistic, enthusiastic, well-resourced, politically naïve, digital camera wielding 18-30 years olds who were averse to expressing the slightest of political views. Scrap That. With a capital S. And T. They have no credibility. No spine. No spunk. None. They do not represent the best interests of those they pander to.

I had planned to rant on about the pointlessness of the full page ad they had in yesterday's Tuesday's Irish Times (the vast majority of whose readers BTW are not even in their targeted demographic, and sure let's also gloss over the fact that the 24,670 euro cost of such an ad could – for example - fund 50 buses to ferry 2500 18-30 year old registered but exiled voters to their polling station in the boonies) but – really - why bother?

Rock the Vote had huge potenital but it was sure squandered in the hands of this crew.

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1 comment(s) so far...


Re: Rock The Vote? A spine free zone.

Eoghan, well said. It's ridiculous that RTV didn't mobilise before November 2006 in order to get people to register to vote!

Ultimately, though, the issue is that young Irish people (of which I'm one) are IN GENERAL just not interested in politics and political issues.

For instance, students can't really complain about being away from their home constituency, as there are two remedies:
- postal vote
- register in the constituency where you are studying/living
Both of these require motivation and commitment, though - something Irish people don't seem willing to give to their politics.

As for polling at the weekends, of course it's the better thing but I'm sure there'd still be people complaining that 'on Sundays I'm travelling back up to Dublin/going to mass/playing a county championship game/hungover after Saturday/away for the weekend :D

By aidan on   Thursday, May 24, 2007

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