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Registering to vote

Introduction

In order to vote in an election or referendum in Ireland, you must be registered to vote.

Being registered to vote means that you can participate in deciding who represents you at local government level, national government level and European government level.

The Register of Electors

Every local authority in Ireland is responsible for compiling and publishing a list of voters in its area. This is called the Register of Electors or the Electoral Register. Anyone can inspect this Register and it is available in all local authority offices, post offices, Garda stations and public libraries. You can check the Electoral Register online here.

The published Register contains the voter's name, address, polling station and category of voter. For inclusion in the Register of Electors you must complete application form RFA which is available from your local authority, to whom it must be returned.

A new draft Register is compiled each year and is published on 1 November.

To be eligible to be included in the Register of Electors, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old on the day the Register comes into force (15 February)
  • Have been ordinarily resident in the State on 1 September in the year preceding the coming into force of the Register.

Students living away from home while attending college have the choice of being registered at either their home address or their student residential address. You must be registered at one address only and you must live at that address on 1 September before the register comes into force. If you live away from the address at which you are registered, you will need to contact the registration authority and give them your new address.If you leave your address but you plan to return there within 18 months, you can continue to be registered there, as long you do not register at any other address.

Correcting your details in the draft Register

If you need to add your name or change your entry in the draft Register, you can do this up to 25 November each year. You must fill in form RFA1 for the draft Register. You can get an RFA1 form from your local post office or public library. Forms are also available from your local authority and this is where completed forms should be returned to.

If you are applying because you have moved to a new address, you should include this information and your former address so that you can be removed from the register for that area.

The amended Register of Electors is published on 1 February and comes into force on 15 February.

The supplement to the Register of Electors

If your name is not on the Register of Electors in February, you may still make an application to be included in a supplement to the Register on form RFA2. You can make this application at any time, but in order to be included in the supplement used at an election, your application must be received by your local authority at least 15 days before polling day (Sundays, public holidays and Good Friday are not counted as days for this purpose).

You are eligible for inclusion in the supplement to the Register of Electors on or after the day on which you reach 18 years of age. You can be included if this birthday falls after the closing date for applications but is on or before polling day. If you are within this category, you should accompany your application with a copy of your birth certificate.

You can apply for inclusion on the supplement as a result of changing address on form RFA3. This will also remove you from the register for your previous address.

The Electoral Register and direct marketing

Local authorities publish two versions of the Register of Electors: the full register and the edited register.

The Full Register lists everyone who is entitled to vote. Once a Full Register has been published, it can only be used for an electoral or other statutory purpose.

The Edited Register contains the names and addresses of those voters who have indicated that their details can be used for other purposes (for example, for direct marketing use by a commercial company or other organisation).

If you do not want your details to be included in the Edited Register, you should tick the "opt out" box on the registration form. If you want your details to be included in the Edited Register, that is, you are happy that commercial companies and other organisations will contact you with direct marketing, you should leave the "opt out" box blank.

If you do not tick the "opt out" box, it is assumed that you want your details to be included in the Edited Register, if you do not wish your details to appear on the Edited Register tick the "opt out" box.

It is an offence for an organisation/commercial body to contact someone from the full electoral register for direct marketing purposes. This was set down in law under Section 32 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001. Find out more about how to deal with unsolicited direct marketing material in Ireland.

Who can vote in elections and referenda?

The type of election you can vote in depends on your citizenship.The following people are eligible to vote:

  • Irish citizens can vote in every election and referendum
  • British citizens may vote at Dáil, European and local elections
  • Other EU citizens may vote at European and local elections*
  • Non-EU citizens can vote at local elections only.

*If you are an EU citizen, other than an Irish or British citizen, and you were not registered to vote in previous European elections in Ireland, you must also complete a declaration, Form EP1, to guard against double voting in the election. The local council will register you to vote in your local constituency and send the information in your declaration to your home EU Member State. You can also get the form from your local authority.

Overseas voters

If you are an Irish citizen living abroad you cannot be entered on the Register of Electors. This means that you cannot vote in an election or referendum here in Ireland. (The only exception to this is in the case of Irish officials on duty abroad (and their spouses) who may register on the postal voters list).

Postal Voters List

You will normally be required to vote in person at an official voting centre but you may be eligible for a postal vote if you are:

  • An Irish diplomat or his/her spouse posted abroad
  • A member of the Garda Síochána
  • A whole-time member of the Defence Forces.

You may also be eligible for a postal vote if you cannot go to a polling station because:

  • Of a physical illness or disability
  • You are studying full time at an educational institution in Ireland, which is away from your home address where you are registered
  • You are unable to vote at your polling station because of your occupation
  • You are unable to vote at your polling station because you are in prison as a result of an order of a court.

Applications for inclusion on the Postal Voters List must be received by 25 November at the latest.

If you are registered as a postal voter, you may vote by post only. You may not vote at a polling station.

Supplement to the Postal Voters List

If you are eligible for the postal voter list but are not included, you can apply for inclusion in the relevant supplement to the lists.

The latest date for receipt of applications is:

  • 2 days after the date of dissolution of the Dáil in the case of a general election
  • 2 days after the date of the order appointing polling day in the case of a Dáil bye-election
  • 22 days (excluding Sundays and public holidays) before polling day for other elections or referenda

Application forms are available from your local authority.

Special Voters List

You may also qualify to be on a Special Voters List for those who live in hospitals, nursing homes or similar institutions and who wish to vote at these locations. Applications for inclusion on the Special Voters List must be made by 25 November and, in the case of a first application, must be accompanied by a medical certificate.

Supplement to the Special Voters List

If you are eligible for the Special Voter list but are not included, you can apply for inclusion in the relevant supplement to the lists.

The latest date for receipt of applications is:

  • 2 days after the date of dissolution of the Dáil in the case of a general election
  • 2 days after the date of the order appointing polling day in the case of a Dáil bye-election
  • 22 days (excluding Sundays and public holidays) before polling day for other elections or referenda

Application forms are available from your local authority.

How to apply

Application forms for inclusion on the Electoral Register, Special Voters List, Postal Voters List and the amended Electoral Register are available from all local authorities, post offices and public libraries.

Forms are also available on www.checktheregister.ie.

Completed forms must be returned to your local authority.

Page updated: 29 April 2014

Language

Gaeilge

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Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.