We know, we know; some of you have already read this headline and thought: 'Do they really need to tell us that?'
But with a huge raft of newly registered voters, Friday's referendum will be the first time many have seen the inside of a polling booth – 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.
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 this Friday.
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. Don’t let that happen; you’ll only end up regretting it.
— Mark Kelly (@Blackhall99) May 17, 2015
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 home 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 the night before
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, and bring proof of address such as a utility bill or bank statement.
DO leave your badges, signs and other paraphernalia at home
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 both sides, 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, particularly given how this campaign has been mobilised so much online – 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 huge risk.
DO read the top of each ballot paper carefully
This is particularly important if you plan on voting ‘Yes’ in one referendum and ‘No’ in the other – don’t forget there are two votes taking place on Friday!
Read the top of each sheet carefully (they’ll be different colours) and be sure to vote in each the way you’d intended.
DON'T put anything other than an ‘X’ in the box
Keep it simple. Your vote won’t necessarily be spoiled if you use a tick, but don’t take any chances – place a clear ‘X’ in the appropriate box, and nothing more.
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.
Tweet it, Facebook it, and if you’re sitting with your friends in the pub at 8.30pm, make sure to do one last check so that you can give them a gentle nudge before it’s too late.
This outcome is yours to determine, and once those polls close they close for good – so go out there, do it, and enjoy the result this campaign deserves come Saturday afternoon.
Share this with your friends to make sure everyone gets the essentials right this Friday!