Registering to vote

Introduction

In order to vote in an election or referendum in Ireland, you must be registered to vote. Being registered means that your name has been entered on one of the following lists:

  • The main Register of Electors
  • The Postal Voters List
  • The Special Voters List
  • A supplement to one of these 3 lists

Eligible registered voters can participate in deciding who represents them at local government level, national government level and European level. See ‘Who can vote in elections and referenda?’ below for eligibility rules.

You can apply at any time to be registered to vote. However, when an election or referendum has been announced, there is a cut-off date after which you cannot be registered in time to vote. For example, for the presidential election and the referendum on blasphemy, both on Friday 26 October 2018, the local authority must have received your application by the following dates:

  • For the supplement to the Register of Electors: Tuesday 9 October 2018
  • For the supplement to the Postal Voters List: Monday 1 October 2018
  • For the supplement to the Special Voters List: Monday 1 October 2018

Register of Electors

Each local authority 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 use checktheregister.ie to check to see if you are on the Electoral Register.

The published Register of Electors contains the voter's name, address, polling station and category of voter. If you wish to be included in the Register of Electors you must complete application form RFA and return it to your local authority. When the Register is being compiled, the application form is available to download at checktheregister.ie. You can also get the form from the local authority.

A new draft Register is compiled each year . It is published on 1 November and comes into force on 15 February of the following year.

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 and send it to your local authority. This form is available to download at that time at checktheregister.ie. You can also get it from any post office, public library or local authority.

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 each year and comes into force on 15 February.

Supplement to the Register of Electors

If your name is not on the Register of Electors in February, you can apply to be included in a supplement to it, using Form RFA2.

You can apply at any time. However, you can only be included in the supplement used at an election or referendum if your local authority receives your application 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 in this situation, it is advisable to enclose a copy of your birth certificate or similar document with your application.

If you have changed address, you use form RFA3 to apply for inclusion on the supplement at your new address. This will also remove you from the register for your previous address. There are detailed guidance notes on this form.

For the referendum and presidential election on 26 October, your local authority must receive your application to get on the supplement by Tuesday 9 October 2018.

Register of Electors and direct marketing

Local authorities publish 2 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 'out' option 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 tick the 'in' option box. If these boxes are both left blank your details will not appear on the Edited Register.

Under Section 32 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001, it is an offence for an organisation or commercial body to contact someone from the full electoral register for direct marketing purposes. Find out more about how to deal with unsolicited direct marketing material.

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 added to the Register of Electors. 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 posted abroad, or their spouse or civil partner who is abroad with them
  • 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 local polling station because of your occupation, service or employment
  • 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 Voters List but are not included, you can apply for inclusion in the relevant supplement to the list.

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

For the referendum and presidential election on 26 October, your local authority must receive your application to get on the supplement by Monday 1 October 2018.

Application forms are available on checktheregister.ie and from your local authority.

Special Voters List

You may also qualify to be on a Special Voters List for people 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 Voters List but are not included, you can apply for inclusion in the relevant supplement to the list.

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

For the referendum and presidential election on 26 October, your local authority must receive your application to get on the supplement by Monday 1 October 2018.

Application forms are available on checktheregister.ie and 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 on checktheregister.ie. Forms are also available from all local authorities, post offices and public libraries.

Return the completed form to your local authority.

Page edited: 21 September 2018