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No selfies or badges: What you need to know before you vote today

Here’s everything you need to know.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated 6.30am

TODAY WILL SEE a referendum take place in the Republic of Ireland, and if you’re registered to vote you’ll get to have your say on same-sex marriage and the age of the President.

Before you cast your vote, we’ve gathered all the information you need to know before you head to the polling station, polling card in hand (though as you’ll see, if you don’t have a polling card, that’s OK).

If you haven’t voted before, we also fill you in on how not to spoil your vote.

And most importantly: why you shouldn’t take a selfie inside the polling booth.

Do you have any other questions that we haven’t answered here? Email aoife@thejournal.ie

Voting Begins Source: Sam Boal

When are we voting?

Polling Day is Friday, 22 May 2015 (that’s today) and polling will take place between 7am and 10pm.

Where is my local polling station?

If you got a polling card, the information is on that. Alternatively, you can contact your local authority for the location of your polling station.

Who can vote?

To vote:

  • You must be an Irish citizen.
  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • Your name must be on the Register of Electors.

How do I know if I’m on the register?

The registration deadline for voting in this referendum has now passed, but you can still check the Irish electoral register.

Visit www.checktheregister.ie or ring your local council to see if you’re registered for voting today.

What am I voting on?

According to the Referendum Commission, you are voting on two things:

  • The Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015
  • The Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Age of Eligibility for Election to the Office of President) Bill 2015

How many ballot papers will there be?

Two.

The paper for the marriage referendum ballot is white, and the paper for the age of the president ballot is green.

What am I voting on in the Marriage Referendum?

As the Referendum Commission put it:

In this referendum, you may vote Yes or No to the proposal to include a new clause about marriage in the Constitution. This new clause provides that two people may marry each other regardless of their sex.
The proposed amendment to the Constitution is contained in the Thirty-Fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015.
It is proposed to add the following to Article 41 of the Constitution: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” 

What am I voting on in the Presidential age referendum?

According to the Referendum Commission:

In this referendum, you may vote YES or NO to the proposal to reduce the age at which candidates are eligible for election to the office of President from 35 to 21.
The proposal is contained in the Thirty-Fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Age of Eligibility for Election to the Office of President) Bill 2015.
The current Article 12.4.1° of the Constitution states:’Every citizen who has reached his thirty-fifth year of age is eligible for election to the office of President.’
It is proposed to replace this with:
Every citizen who has reached the age of twenty-one years is eligible for election to the office of President.

What should I bring with me?

Bring your polling card and ID.

Your ID can be one of the following:

  • A passport
  • A driving licence
  • An employee identity card containing a photograph
  • A student identity card with photo
  • A travel document with name and photograph
  • A Bank or Savings or Credit Union book with address in the constituency or local electoral area
  • A Public Services Card

OR

Any of these with a document which establishes your address in the constituency or local electoral area (where appropriate):

  • A cheque book
  • A cheque card
  • A credit card
  • A birth certificate
  • A marriage certificate.

“If you don’t have a polling card you can go along to your local polling station and if it happens to be the wrong one they’ll tell you where to vote,” said the referendum commissioner.

If you have a polling card or don’t have a polling card, bring some photo ID with you as well, photo ID preferable your passport or driving licence of social welfare card.
If you are asked for it and you don’t have it there may be a problem. So bring something like that with you.

I haven’t received my polling card yet. Do I need it to vote?

No, you don’t need your polling card if you are registered to vote. See our answer above about how to check the register.

But you must bring a valid form of personal identification (see the previous question) with you when you go to vote.

Can I bring a poster, badge, or placard with me to the polling station?

There must be no media within 50metres of the polling station, and no paraphernalia to do with the referendum or political campaigns within around 50m of the polling station also.

Kevin Cross, the referendum commissioner, told us:

You’re not suppose to wear any badge or emblem that might indicate how you’re going to vote.
So take off any badges that you have and put them in your pocket before you go into the polling station.

Can I take a photograph at the polling station?

Don’t take a selfie inside the polling booth – but you can take one outside the polling station.

The referendum commissioner explained to us:

It’s a matter for the returning officer but you’re not suppose to do anything that would involve the secrecy of the ballot paper being interfered with. So if you take a selfie of yourself after just having voted that may well do that any you could be stopped, infact you could be charged if you persist. If you want to take a selfie of yourself after you voted take one outside the polling station and that’s fine.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

The Tánaiste Joan Burton also weighed in on this:

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

How do I vote?

Place an X in the Yes OR No box, fold the sheet of paper, then bring it out and put the paper into the relevant ballot box outside.

  • Don’t put a tick, put an X
  • Don’t put any mark, hashtag, anything at all other than the X on the card.
  • Read the ballot paper very carefully.
  • There are two ballot papers, one for each referendum

You’re voting on two things – each one is on a different coloured paper, so make sure you know which one you’re voting on.

The paper for the marriage referendum ballot is white (for wedding cake), and the age of the president is green (for Phoenix Park).

Could I accidentally spoil my vote?

It can be easy to spoil your vote – if you write anything other than an X in one of the boxes, you can spoil it.

That also means:

  • Don’t put a smiley face, write anything, write your name, write a slogan, or basically write or mark anything at all on the ballot paper other than putting an X into the box of your choice.

Is there a guide to the referendum for people with intellectual disabilities?

Yes, and you can find it at this link.

I haven’t made up my mind yet. Where can I get more information?

Try the Referendum Commission and Referendum.ie for details on the referendum process.

We have featured articles on both sides of the marriage referendum debate and you can find those all here.

Here’s an interview with the referendum commissioner.

Does it really matter if I vote in the referendum?

Here’s what Kevin Cross has to say about that:

Ireland is one of the few countries that allows people to vote on these matters. Lots of people want to vote but research has shown that many times people don’t vote because time has gone by. My advice would be to select a time and stick to it.
Voting is very important. It’s our right to decide. You’ve heard all the opinions, the experts, the pundits … have all spoken.
In the past there have been very close polls in this country, less than 10,000 votes decided – less than 1 vote in each ballot box in the country would have swung it the other way so if people don’t vote they are giving the decision to others.

When will the votes be counted?

Counting will begin on Saturday morning.

We will be following the result as it emerges, on our TheJournal.ie liveblog.

Originally published 21 May

 Read: Selfies in the polling booth are a bad idea, says Department>

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