Right to vote in Ireland

Introduction

If you have applied for Irish citizenship and been approved, you have the right to vote in all referendums and elections in Ireland. In order to exercise that right, you must make sure that your name has been entered on the Register of Electors.

If you are living in Ireland but are not an Irish citizen, you also have the right to vote in some elections – see ‘Who can vote in elections and referendums?’ below.

Register of Electors

Every 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. post offices, Garda stations and public libraries. You can also check it online at checktheregister.ie.

The published Register of Electors contains the voter's name, address, polling station and category of voter – see ‘Who can vote in elections and referendums?’ below for a list of categories.

To be included on the Register, you must complete application form RFA, which is available on checktheregister.ie or from your local authority. You may be asked for documents such as a birth certificate or a certificate of naturalisation in order to prove your eligibility to vote. Send the completed form to your local authority.

Draft Register of Electors

A new draft Register is compiled each year. It is published on 1 November and is due to come into force on 15 February of the following year. Printed copies of the draft Register are available at post offices, public libraries, Garda stations, courthouses and local authority offices up to 25 November each year. Voters are invited to check the draft to make sure that they are correctly registered. You have until 25 November to make a correction or have your name included.

You must fill in form RFA1 for the draft Register. This form is available on checktheregister.ie or from your local authority. 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 of Electors is then published in the following February.

Supplement to the Register of Electors

If you are qualified to vote but have missed the deadline to include your name on the Register of Electors, you can apply to be included in a supplement to the Register on form RFA2 - available on checktheregister.ie or from your local authority. This will allow you to vote at any election or referendum held during the year. You can apply for inclusion on the supplement 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 have changed your address, you can apply for inclusion on the supplement on form RFA3 - available on checktheregister.ie or from your local authority. This will also remove you from the Register for your previous address.

Who can vote in elections and referendums?

You must be at least 18 years of age on 15 February, the day the Register of Electors 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. Your citizenship will determine which elections you can vote in, and so your local authority may ask for further details.

The categories of voters and their voting rights are:

*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 on Form EP1, to guard against double voting in the election. The local authority 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, you will need to contact the local 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

At present, 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 or civil partners abroad with them) who may register on the Postal Voters List (see below).

In its fifth report in 2013, the Convention on the Constitution recommended that Irish citizens resident outside the State should have the right to vote in presidential elections. Following this recommendation, the Government announced plans for a referendum to amend the Constitution to allow Irish citizens living outside the State (including in Northern Ireland) to vote in presidential elections. This referendum is expected to take place in May 2019, on the same day as the local and European elections.

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have prepared an Options Paper to inform public debate around the proposed change.

You can read more about the current situation and this proposal on dfa.ie/global-irish.

Postal and special voters lists

Postal voters list

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:

  • An Irish official 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:

  • 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, 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 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.

Special voters list

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.

Supplements to special and postal voters lists

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 Register of Electors, Special Voters List, Postal Voters List and correction of the draft Register of Electors are available on checktheregister.ie. Forms are also available from all local authorities, post offices and public libraries. Return the completed forms 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.

Further information

You can find out more about elections and referendums in general and about registering to vote.

If you have questions about your right to vote, contact the Franchise Section of your local authority.

Page edited: 7 November 2018