Voting procedure in a European election


The returning officer for each of the 3 constituencies in Ireland is nominated by the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government and must be a City or County Sheriff or a County Registrar. He or she is the person responsible for organising the poll, printing the ballot papers and counting the votes in each constituency.

The local returning officer provides polling stations - usually schools and public buildings are used. If you are on the Register of Electors, a polling card will be sent to your home before the date of the European election. Your polling card will include your elector number and will tell you where you can vote.

Each candidate at a European Parliament election may be represented by a "personation agent" at the polling station. The personation agent supervises the polling and helps prevent electoral offences.

When you arrive at the polling station, you will be asked to state your name and address and you may be asked to prove your identity. If you are asked to prove your identity and you cannot do so, you may not be allowed to vote. If the presiding officer is satisfied in relation to your identity, your ballot paper will be stamped and handed to you.

You will then go into a voting compartment. The names of the candidates in the election appear in alphabetical order on the ballot paper along with an indication of their political party, if any. A photograph of the candidate and/or a party emblem may also appear on the ballot paper.

You must indicate the order of your choice of candidates by writing "1" in the box beside the photograph of your first choice of candidate and, if you wish, "2" beside the photograph of your second choice of candidate, "3" beside the photograph of your third choice and so on.

When you vote this way, you are instructing the returning officer to transfer your vote to your second choice candidate if the first choice is either elected or eliminated. If your second choice candidate is either elected or eliminated, your vote will be transferred to your third choice and so on.

You must then fold your ballot paper to hide your vote and place it in the sealed ballot box. You may only vote once at the election.

If you have a physical or sight disability or if you have reading or writing disabilities, you may be assisted by the presiding officer. It is also possible to vote in a European Parliament election by a postal vote.

Prisoners can also vote by registering on the Postal Voters List.


There are about 2.8 million registered electors who are entitled to vote at European elections. To vote in a European election:

  • You must be a citizen of the European Union
  • You must be 18 years of age on the day the Register of Electors comes into force, i.e., the 15th February.
  • Your name must be on the Register of Electors.

If you are an Irish citizen living in another Member State, you are entitled to vote at the European elections in that country only. You are not entitled to vote at the elections in more than one constituency or country. This effectively means that you cannot vote abroad and in Ireland in the same election.

There is more information on european elections on the website of the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.

Page edited: 14 March 2014