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Your Vote is Your Voice

How to vote

When voting in Irish elections you will be provided with a ballot paper for each election you are eligible to vote in. Filling your ballot paper in correctly is vital to having your vote count.

Voters must ensure that you express your preference or preferences on each individual ballot paper beginning with 1 and continuing 2, 3, 4, etc. for as many or as few as you wish. So start with 1 on each ballot paper or else your vote will not be counted.

The following video, created for the recent 7 June European and local elections, demonstrates how to vote in the Irish electoral system.

Preparing to vote

You will firstly need to check if you are entitled to vote in each election. You can find details on our voter eligibility page.

It is easy to register to vote or to check that your details are accurate and up to date. You can do this by visiting:

Once you are registered to vote and you meet the eligibility criteria for voting in Irish elections, a polling information card will be posted to your registered home address before polling day.

Casting your vote in an election

When you arrive at your polling station on polling day, you will be asked to say your name and address. You may be asked for identification so have your ID ready for inspection.

If the polling staff are satisfied with your identity, and your name is on the Register of Electors, the Presiding Officer will stamp the necessary ballot paper(s) and give them to you. Make sure your ballot papers are stamped. If they are not stamped they will not be valid.

Take your ballot papers into the private voting compartment.

How to fill out a ballot paper

Ireland uses proportional representation (PR) for voting in elections with each voter having a single transferable vote (STV).

Proportional Representation – Single Transferable Vote (PR-STV) is used for voting in:

  • General elections
  • Local elections
  • European elections
  • Presidential elections
  • Mayoral elections

The only type of vote in Ireland that does not use this system is a referendum.

Using the PR-STV system means that voters can vote for as many or as few candidates in order of their preference.

Each ballot paper contains short instructions on how to vote. Read and follow the instructions on your ballot paper carefully. Pencils will be provided, but you can bring your own pen or pencil if you wish.

The ballot paper will also show a list of names, in alphabetical order, party emblems and images of each candidate. There will be a box to the right of each candidates name. You mark your preference for each candidate in the box to the right.

You mark a ‘1’ in the box beside your first choice candidate and, if you wish, a ‘2’ in the box beside your second choice candidate, a ‘3’ in the box beside your third choice candidate, and so on.

  • By marking a ‘1’ beside a candidate you are saying ‘I wish to vote for this candidate.’
  • By marking a ‘2’ beside a candidate you are saying ‘If my first choice candidate does not need my vote because they have already been elected or excluded from the count, I want my vote to go to this second candidate.’
  • By marking a ‘3’ beside a candidate you are saying ‘If my first and second choice candidates do not need my vote, I want my vote to go to this third candidate’.

This system of voting gives you a wide variety of choice. You can choose many different candidates and mark them in order of your preference. You can mark your preferences for as many or as few candidates as you wish. This is your decision.

For each ballot paper make sure you start with ‘1’ then ‘2’ then ‘3’ and so on.

To ensure your vote is counted make sure you mark your preferences as clearly as possible.

If you do not want to fill out a preference for all candidates on the ballot paper, the box beside those you are not voting for must be left empty.

Do not make any other mark on the ballot paper. If you do, your vote may be considered invalid/spoilt and not counted.

If you have a visual impairment, a Ballot Paper Template will be available at every polling station and you can use it to cast your vote. Find more information on our accessible voting page.

When you have voted you should fold your ballot paper, return and place it into the ballot box at the same station.

The Returning Officer in each local authority is responsible for managing their local election. Each local authority pays the cost of running their own election.

Read more information about Ireland’s voting system.

Example ballot papers