There’s a referendum this week, and for many this will be the first time to exercise their right to vote. Its an important right, and first time around there is bound to be a little uncertainty about what to do. Today we give you a couple of pointers about things to do, or not do
We have a downloadable poster for anyone that wants a quick guide. It just highlights the basics without too much detail.
Where do I vote?
Assuming you are on the register, you should have received a polling card by now. On the polling card will be details of the polling station where you will vote. This is normally somewhere close to where you live. It will have your name and address, the name of the polling station and the times that the station is open.
What if I don’t get a polling card?
Don’t worry. You don’t actually need it. But you do need to bring some identification. Even with a polling card you might need to show some identification. Normally photo ID like a passport, drivers licence, Student ID card is enough, but there is a complete list available at
which says the following;
(i) a passport; (ii) a driving licence; (iii) an employee identity card containing a photograph; (iv) a student identity card issued by an educational institution and containing a photograph; (v) a travel document containing name and photograph; (vi) a Bank or Saving or Credit Union book containing address in the constituency or local electoral area (where appropriate); (vii) a Public Services Card;
any of the following accompanied by a further document which establishes the address of the holder in the constituency or local electoral area (where appropriate): (viii) a cheque book; (ix) a cheque card; (x) a credit card; (xi) a birth certificate; (xii) a marriage certificate.
What happens inside the polling station?
When you get in, typically there will be a number of table where staff will check your name against the list of voters they have. The tables might be divided alphabetically for example.
Once a member of staff has checked that you against the register, they will stamp a ballot paper, hand it to you, and you can then go to a polling booth alone, where you can cast your vote in private. Don’t wait for a friend or anyone else. Only one person is allowed in a polling booth.
It is very important to make sure that the ballot paper is stamped, or it won’t be counted. If it’s not stamped, or there is some sort of mark on it, bring it straight to a member of staff and they will stamp it or give you a replacement.
The card will look like the example above. You will be given the options of voting YES or NO. You mark your vote with an X in this referendum. In an election it is normally with a number.
If you want to repeal the Eighth Amendment, place an X inside the Yes box.
If you want to retain the Eighth Amendment, place an X inside the No box.
Do not use a tick or write anything on your card. If you put anything other than X inside the box you intend then there is a danger of your vote being considered to have been spoiled and not counted.
Once your happy you have completed your vote, fold the page and place your vote into the ballot box. Then that’s it. You’ve cast your vote and added your voice to the democratic decision making process
Some other rules
Don’t wear or carry anything that shows how you are likely to vote
Canvassing is banned within 50 metres of a polling station, so within that distance, there should be no posters close by, nor should there be anyone handing out leaflets, or using a loudspeaker to encourage people to vote one way or the other.
While wearing a badge or some clothing supporting once side or the other is not strictly illegal within the polling station, it could be considered campaign material, and you could be asked to remove the item. The decision on this is down to the staff member managing the polling station.
Don’t take a selfie!
There might be a temptation to take a photo to show that you’ve voted, especially if is your first time voting. Don’t do it. Photography and video is banned within polling stations, and selfies are especially not allowed. Voting is a private and personal act, and while you might be happy to share that moment with others, the remote chance that someone else might get caught in an image means there is no photography at all allowed.
Wait till you are 50 metres away then tell Instagram or social media of your choice all about it.
Don’t discuss your vote inside the station
Again it could be considered campaigning, but generally its consideration for others. You can chat with staff, and nobody will stop you voting because you are in conversation, but chatting about how you intend to vote or have just voted is generally to be avoided. Wait till you’re outside.
And that’s it.
It is really very straightforward, but its not something everybody in the world has the right to do, and there are definitely times when a single vote makes a difference. The count will take place the next day. Members of the public can normally go to count centres to watch the count happening. IN County Wicklow, the count centre is Shoreline Centre in Greystones.
Your first vote is an important a rite of passage – one that confirms you as contributing member of the democratic decision making process in Ireland – congratulations!