Bring The Right ID, Don't Take A Selfie In The Booth And Other Essential Voting Tips
Tomorrow is important – so here's the foolproof guide to getting it right
We know, we know; some of you have already read this headline and thought: 'Do they really need to tell us that?'
But following the huge raft of newly registered voters during last year's referendum, tomorrow will be the first time several people vote in a General Election – and while it really is a straightforward process, there are a few things to double-check before you mark that ballot paper and do your bit for democracy.
We're basing this around the highly popular guide we published last year. Maybe you don't need this info, but someone you know might – so pass it on, spread the word, and let's make sure not a single vote is wasted come tomorrow.
DO plan your voting time and location
Obvious point: find out where you need to go to vote. If you have a polling card, this information will be contained on it; if you don’t, find out on checktheregister.ie
Less obvious point: pick a time you’re going to vote, and stick to it. It’s a Friday, things tend to be up in the air, and if you don’t mark off a part of the day, it could easily get lost in the madness. We said it about the referendum last May, and we're saying it again now.
DON’T get ‘caught for time’, ‘stuck in work’ or ‘too busy’
The polls are open from 7am to 10pm; that’s 15 hours, and leaves very little excuse for not finding the time.
Sure, we’ve all pulled the occasional long one in work, but if you have even the slightest inkling that Friday is going to be one of those days, make sure you’re first in line at 7am, that you’re out the door at 9pm, or that you make it out during lunch.
You’d make it for a doctor’s appointment, so you can make it for this.
DO find your passport or driving licence in advance
There’s no point planning your vote to precision, then spending the day faffing around the house in a desperate hunt for your passport. You will need photo ID to vote (see below for the details), so don’t show up without this!
DON’T give up on voting just because you didn’t receive a polling card
Having a polling card makes things a bit easier, but if you don’t – for instance, if you registered late and are on the supplementary register – then you can check your elector number and polling station on checktheregister.ie.
Bring proof of address such as a utility bill or bank statement.
DO leave your badges, signs and other paraphernalia at home
Okay, so this isn't as big a deal as it was during the referendum. But be it a party badge you picked up, or even a #RepealThe8th T-shirt, it might just make a difference.
This may seem a little unfair, but there are laws in place designed to prevent campaigning at polling stations – these apply to posters within a certain radius of the polling station, leaflets, flags, banners and anything that encourages a vote for one side over the other.
If you show up wearing something along these lines, you may be asked to remove it; this isn't an act of political sabotage, but just the polling station doing their job. The same applies to all parties, remember.
DON’T take a selfie or any photograph in the voting booth
Sorry for stating the obvious, but this is important. It’ll be tempting to take a photo of your ballot paper and post it on social – but resist the temptation.
Taking a picture can be said to compromise the secrecy of the ballot, and you may end up having your vote removed if you’re caught in the act. It’s unlikely, admittedly, but do resist the urge to take such a risk.
DO mark your candidates in order of preference using numbers
It's as easy as one, two, three.
If you choose to only vote for one candidate – and that is, of course, your right – mark the box with a '1' as if you were listing your preferences. Not with an X, a tick, or anything else.
DON'T make silly excuses about your vote 'not making a difference'
Your vote DOES matter.
It's not as clear-cut as the referendum was, and it might not get your favoured candidate into the Dáil – but your transfers could be take someone else over the line, or your vote may ensure that your candidate/party gets a sufficient share of the vote to reclaim their expenses.
That's exactly the sort of thing that would give them the momentum and resources to grow over the course of this Dáil – and it may make them a far more viable candidate next time around. It's all up for grabs here.
DO vote, and remind others to do the same
Back to an obvious point: vote on Friday. It’s your right, it’s your responsibility, and it’s very, very important.
What’s equally important is that you use your influence to persuade others to do the same – ensure they’ve planned their vote, that they’ve checked all the boxes, that they know where their passport is and that they, too, know not to take any bloody selfies inside the polling booth.
Share this with your friends to make sure everyone gets the essentials right this Friday!