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Right to vote in Ireland

Information

If you have applied and been approved for Irish citizenship, you have the right to vote in all referenda and elections in Ireland. In order however to exercise that right, you must ensure that your name has been entered on the Electoral Register.

If you are resident in Ireland but not an Irish citizen, you also have the right to vote in some of the elections.

The Electoral Register

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 Electoral Register is compiled each year and is published on 1 November. Resident Irish citizens are entitled to vote at all elections and they are identified by the letter 'P' after their names on the Register. Resident British citizens can vote in local, European and Dáil elections and are identified by the letter 'D'. Resident EU citizens can only vote in local and European elections and have a letter 'E' after their names. Those identified by the letter 'L' opposite their name (non-EU citizens) can only vote at local elections.

Correcting your details in the draft Register

A draft register is compiled on 1 November each year. You have until 25 November to make a correction or have your name included. You must fill in form RFA1 for the draft Register.You may be asked for documents such as a birth certificate or a certificate of naturalisation in order to prove your eligibility to vote. 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 is then published in February.

Supplement to the Register

If you are qualified to vote but have missed the deadline to include your name on the register, you can apply to be included in a Supplement to the Register on form RFA2. This will allow you to vote at any election or referendum held during the year. You can apply for inclusion on the Supplemental Register at least 15 days before polling day (Sundays, public holidays and Good Friday are not counted as days for this purpose).

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.

Who can vote in elections and referenda?

You must be at least 18 years of age on 15 February, the day the Register comes into force. You must also have been ordinarily resident in the State on 1 September in the year before the Register comes into force.

While you may be entitled to register as a voter due to your residency, there may be a limit on the types of elections in which you can vote. The registration authority will need to know your citizenship because this will determine the elections at which you may vote.

The right to vote is as follows:

  • Irish citizens may vote at every election and referendum;
  • British citizens may vote at Dáil elections, European elections and local elections;
  • Other European Union (EU) citizens may vote at European and local elections*
  • Non-EU citizens may 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.

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, (for example, if you are a student living away from home), 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.

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

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

  • A full-time member of the Defence Force
  • A member of the Garda Siochana
  • An Irish diplomat or his/her spouse posted abroad

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

  • You have 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 list of postal voters 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.

You may also qualify to be on a list of special voters who live in hospitals, nursing homes or similar institutions and who wish to vote at these locations. Applications to be entered 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.

If you are eligible for the postal voters list or the special voters 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 two days after the date of dissolution of the Dáil in the case of a general election or two days after the order appointing polling day for other elections or referenda. You can find out more in our document on registering to vote.

How to apply

Application forms for inclusion on the Electoral Register, Special Voters List, Postal Voters List and Correction of the draft 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.

You should contact your local authority for application forms for inclusion on the Supplement to the Postal Voters List or the Supplement to the Special Voters List.

Questions regarding your right to vote, should be addressed to the Franchise Section of your local authority.

Page updated: 17 September 2013

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Related Documents

  • Registering to vote
    In order to vote in an election or referendum in Ireland, you must be registered to vote. Find out if you are eligible to vote and how to register.
  • Facilities for Voters with Disabilities
    Procedures in place nationally, that help disabled people in Ireland to vote.
  • Voting in a referendum
    Who can vote in a referendum in Ireland, where do you cast your vote and how do you cast your vote?

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.