Local elections in Ireland

Introduction

Local elections are held in Ireland every 5 years, in the month of May or June. At the local elections, members of the local community elect councillors to represent the community in local authorities.

The number of councillors elected to each local authority can vary. The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government can divide each city or county area into smaller local electoral areas and can fix the number of councillors that can be elected for each of these electoral areas.

The polling date is set by the Minister and is the same day in all of the local authority areas. The polling period must last at least 12 hours between 7.00am and 10.30pm.

The local authority returning officer in each local authority is responsible for managing the election in their local authority area. Each local authority pays the cost of running their own election.

There is a week for nominating candidates to stand at local election - this takes place 4 weeks before the polling day.

On polling day, voters can vote by secret ballot at their local polling station. The Irish electoral system is based on proportional representation by single transferable vote (STV). Voters can number the list of candidates 1,2,3, and so on, in the order of their preference.

If a candidate is elected to more than one local authority area, they must declare in writing which area they want to represent within 3 days of the public notice of the results of the election.

Rules

You do not have to be an Irish citizen to vote in a local election. However, you must be ordinarily resident in the State on 1 September, to register on the Register of Electors for the following year.

To vote in a local election, you must:

  • Be over 18 years of age.
  • Live in the local electoral area.
  • Be listed on the Register of Electors, or the Supplement to the Register. If you are registering to vote for the first time, you are not currently listed. See the ‘How to apply’ section below.

You may not vote in both a county council and a city council election.

Local election posters and signs

The Litter Pollution Act 1997, as amended by the Electoral (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2009 allows people to display election posters for a certain period. They can be displayed from the date the Minister appoints the polling day by order, or 30 days before polling day, whichever is shorter.

Election posters must be removed within 7 days of polling day by the candidate or party. After 7 days, your local authority can issue an on-the-spot fine of €150 for each offence.

If an election poster is causing a hazard to motorists or pedestrians, you can inform your local authority about these safety concerns.

How to apply

To find out if your name is on the Electoral Register you can:

If you want to be added to the Electoral Register, you should complete an application form and return it to your local authority. Application forms are available online at checktheregister.ie or at your local authority office. You can send your completed application form by free-post to your local authority. There is no need to put a stamp on the envelope. In Dublin, you can also register online at voter.ie if you have a Public Services Card and a MyGovID verified account.

For more information, see our document on registering to vote.

Page edited: 3 October 2019