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Dublin: 17 °C Sunday 19 August, 2018
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Here's your guide to voting in the Eighth Amendment referendum

What time do polling stations close at? What will the ballot paper say?

Updated May 24

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

TRYING TO DECIDE how to vote in the upcoming referendum to repeal or retain the Eighth Amendment can be challenging.

We have answered many of your questions here.

On the other hand, the actual voting process itself tomorrow will be very simple.

Here’s what you need to know.

Point 1

Visit CheckTheRegister.ie to make sure you’re registered to vote.

If your details don’t appear, contact your local council. It’s not a foolproof way of confirming you’re registered.

If the council confirms you’re not registered to vote, unfortunately there’s nothing you can do – the deadline was 8 May.

Point 2

The location of your polling station will be written on your polling card. If you haven’t received this, your local council will be able to steer you in the right direction. It will also appear under your details on CheckTheRegister.ie

Polls open at 7am and close at 10pm tomorrow.

The rules state that if you’re in the door before 10pm, you’ll be allowed to vote, but there is sometimes a last-minute rush.

Point 3

Bringing your polling card will make the process of voting easier for you and for staff at the polling station.

If you don’t have it, no worries. You will need to bring some form of ID instead.

Point 4

  • Update: We’d also recommend bringing proof of address.

Here’s what is accepted as ID:

  • A passport
  • A driving licence
  • An employee identity card containing a photograph
  • A student identity card issued by an educational institution and containing a photograph
  • A travel document containing name and photograph
  • A bank, saving or credit union book containing address in the constituency or local electoral area (where appropriate)
  • A Public Services Card

The following accompanied by a further document which establishes the address of the holder in the constituency or local electoral area are also accepted: a cheque book, a cheque card, a credit card, a birth certificate, a marriage certificate.

Even if you have your polling card, you may still be randomly asked for ID.

Point 5

Canvassing – described as leafleting, displaying posters, or using a loudspeaker – is not allowed within 50 metres of a polling station, and is classed as an offence.

The usual advice is that a presiding officer could consider other campaigning material – be it a campaign jumper like a Repeal jumper or Love Both hoodie, or badges – to class as canvassing.

It is up to them to decide.

It must be stressed that this is not a straightforward situation. The Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government, who are responsible for overseeing the nuts and bolts of elections stressed that the interpretation of this rule and the exact action which could be taken is up to the discretion of presiding officer.

Dublin City returning officer James Barry also said that badges and jumpers may be permitted, and that you may see impersonation officers wearing small badges if they are members of either side of the campaign, but that it’s based around what could cause disruption for other voters.

We recommend erring on the side of caution and to consider leaving this sort of material at home so you know you will be able to vote quickly, easily, and without impacting other voters.

Point 6

You can talk to staff, but avoid speaking to other voters. This is most important at the polling booth. It might be an innocent conversation, but polling station staff have a duty to make sure people are able to vote with ease and without interference, and to ensure no canvassing is taking place.

Similar to the above rule, this is open to interpretation.

Point 7

Taking photos or filming a video are both not allowed in the polling station. This is to maintain the secrecy of each person’s individual ballot.

Selfies are explicitly banned in the guidelines for staff.

Even if you are waiving your own secrecy by taking a selfie of yourself with your own Yes or No vote, you could still be catching someone else in the background.

We recommend keeping your phone in your pocket so that there is no doubt that you are adhering to the rules.

Once you’re 50 metres away from the polling station, feel free to put on 10 Repeal jumpers or cover your clothing in Save the 8th pins while taking as many selfies as you like.

Point 8

Voting Slip

It will not mention the Eighth Amendment. Instead, it’s the 36th Amendment.

There will be just one question:

Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the undermentioned Bill?

Below that is written:

Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018

This refers to the legislation that would replace the existing Eighth Amendment with the line:

Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.

Remember, you are voting on constitutional change, rather than the government’s planned legislation.

Point 9

Before you mark your ballot paper, make sure it was stamped and perforated by the staff at the polling station.

Do not write anything else on your ballot paper except for an X to mark your vote. Do not use any other symbol.

If you write anything else, you run the risk of your vote being deemed to be spoilt, and it won’t be counted.

If you want to repeal the Eighth Amendment, place an X in the Yes box.

If you want to retain the Eighth Amendment, place an X in the No box.

If you make a mistake, inform a member of staff immediately and do not place it in the ballot box. If they are satisfied it is an honest mistake, you will be given a new voting slip.

Don’t forget to fold your vote and put in the ballot box.

Point 11

There is a wide range of supports available for anyone with a disability to make sure you can vote as easily as possible.

We recommend you visit this page of Citizens Information – it runs through a full range of options, and if you have further questions, there are contact details at the bottom of the page for the Franchise Section of the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government.

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About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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