Voting procedure in a general election

Information

The returning officer is the County Sheriff or the County Registrar for the county and is the person responsible for organising the poll, printing the ballot papers and counting the votes in each constituency.

The returning officer provides polling stations - usually schools and public buildings are used.

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

If you are on the Register of Electors, a polling card will be sent to your home before the date of the general election. Your polling card will include your elector number and will tell you where you can vote.

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, write 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. This is known as a single transferable vote.

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.

There are a number of procedures in place to allow people with disabilities to vote.

Prisoners can vote by registering on the Postal Voters List.

Rules

Eligibility to vote in a general election

In order to be able to vote in a general election:

  • You must be a citizen of Ireland or Britain
  • You must be 18 years of age on the day of the election
  • Your name must be on the Register of Electors

Personal identification

You must bring a valid form of personal identification, such as a:

  • Passport
  • Driving licence
  • Employee identity card containing a photograph
  • Student identity card issued by an educational institution and containing a photograph
  • Travel document containing name and photograph
  • Bank or Savings or Credit Union book containing your address in the constituency or electoral area
  • Public Services Card
  • Cheque book and another document containing your address in the constituency
  • Cheque card and another document containing your address in the constituency
  • Credit card and another document containing your address in the constituency
  • Birth certificate and another document containing your address in the constituency
  • Marriage certificate and another document containing your address in the constituency

How to apply

The address of your local polling station will be given on your polling card, which will be posted out to you before the election is held.

Page edited: 26 March 2015