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The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland lowered the voting age for all national elections and referendums in the state from twenty-one to eighteen years of age. It was effected by the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1972 which was approved by referendum on 7 December 1972 and signed into law on 5 January 1973.

Changes to the textEdit

  • Deletion from Article 16.1.2 (removed text in bold):
Every citizen without distinction of sex who has reached the age of twenty-one years who is not disqualified by law and complies with the provisions of the law relating to the election of members of Dáil Éireann, shall have the right to vote at an election for members of Dáil Éireann.
  • Addition to Article 16.1.2 (added text in bold):
Every citizen without distinction of sex who has reached the age of eighteen years who is not disqualified by law and complies with the provisions of the law relating to the election of members of Dáil Éireann, shall have the right to vote at an election for members of Dáil Éireann.

OverviewEdit

The Fourth Amendment altered Article 16 which deals with elections to Dáil Éireann (the lower house of parliament). However other provisions of the constitution state that anyone entitled to vote in Dáil elections is also entitled to participate in the election of the President and in referendums, so the amendment affected these votes as well. (The Ninth Amendment later diverged the two franchises.) The amendment did not, nonetheless, affect the minimum age at which one could be elected to the Dáil, and this remained at twenty-one. Although the changes shown above are those made to the English-language version of the constitution, constitutionally it is the Irish text that has precedence.

The amendment was introduced by the Fianna Fáil government of Jack Lynch but was supported by every major political party. It was submitted to a referendum on the same day as the Fifth Amendment, which removed from the constitution reference to the "special position" of the Catholic Church and recognition of certain other named denominations. The Fourth Amendment was approved by 724,836 (84.6%) in favour and 131,514 (15.4%) against.

ResultEdit

Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland referendum
Choice Votes Percentage
Referendum passed Yes 724,836 84.64%
No 131,514 15.36%
Valid votes 856,350 94.79%
Invalid or blank votes 47,089 5.21%
Total votes 903,439 100.00%
Voter turnout 50.65%
Electorate 1,783,604
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