Voting at a polling place

Voting at a polling place

Polling places are usually located in local schools, church halls or public buildings. If you are listed on the electoral register, shortly after the election is announced you will receive a poll card which includes the following information:

  • your electoral number
  • your electoral area
  • the date and hours of the poll
  • the location of your polling station
  • a list of acceptable identity documents
  • instructions for voting
  • the number of the EONI Helpline 

Poll cards are for information purposes only – they are not required to vote.

If you’re not sure where your polling station is, you can search by post code to find out.

When you vote at a polling station you will be required to produce one of the following documents to confirm your identity:

  • A UK, Irish or EEA driving licence (photographic part) (provisional accepted)
  • A UK, Irish or EU passport (note: EU passports are not accepted at UK Parliamentary elections)
  • An Electoral Identity Card
  • A Translink Senior SmartPass
  • A Translink 60+ SmartPass
  • A Translink War Disabled SmartPass
  • A Translink Blind Person’s SmartPass

The identification document does not need to be current, but the photograph must be of a good enough likeness to allow polling station staff to confirm your identity. It also doesn’t matter if the identity document has a different address to your current address on the register.

The polling station is the area within the polling place where you cast your vote. It consists of a table where polling staff issue ballot papers, a polling booth where you mark your ballot paper and a ballot box where you insert your ballot paper once it has been completed.

A polling place may have only one polling station or several. If there is only one polling station in a room, you will see a sign outside the door of the room where it is located. If there is more than one polling station in a room, you will see a sign on each ballot box and issuing table indicating which table you are to go to. For example, if you are elector number 220, and a box is labelled ‘Ballot box number 0-300’, you would go to that box.

If you don’t have your poll card with you, just ask a member of polling station staff to direct you to the right table.

Persons under the age of 18 who accompany voters

Persons under the age of 18 may accompany voters into the polling station. Polling station staff can limit the number of those under 18 allowed in the polling station at any one time if they consider their attendance to be impeding the proceedings in any way.

Polling station facilities for voters with disabilities

The following facilities are available at polling stations to assist voters with disabilities:

  • a polling booth with a shelf at a height suitable for people in wheelchairs
  • a polling booth with extra lighting
  • a large print version of the ballot paper (for reference purposes only)
  • a device with Braille (known as a selector device) to help voters mark their ballot paper

If you want to use any of these items, please tell the staff at the polling station when they give you your ballot paper.

If you cannot mark the ballot paper yourself due to a disability, you can have it marked for you by a companion or by the person in charge of the polling station (the Presiding Officer).

You will need to tell the polling station staff that this is how you want to vote and why. If your companion is voting for you they will be asked to fill in a form. Your ballot paper will be marked and placed in the ballot box on your behalf.

The companion must be either:

  • A registered elector; or
  • Over 18 years old and the parent/brother/sister/spouse/civil partner/child of the elector they are assisting

A companion cannot assist more than two electors to vote at an election.

The voting procedure

At the polling station table:

  1. A member of the polling station staff will ask you to confirm your name and address.
  2. You will be asked to produce your photographic identification (see list above). 
  3. They will issue the ballot paper to you.
  4. You should then go to the polling booth, mark your ballot paper, fold it to conceal your vote and insert it into the ballot box.

If you need assistance you should ask a member of polling staff.

Close of poll

The doors to the polling station will be closed at 10pm. If at 10pm you are in the polling station, or in a queue outside the polling station, you can still apply for a ballot paper.