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Today is your final chance to register to vote in the presidential election and blasphemy referendum

Get your skates on.

90342380_90342380 Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

This article was first published on 6 October 2018.

TODAY IS THE deadline to register to vote in this month’s election and referendum.

Eligible voters have until close of business today, October 9, to submit the necessary forms to their local council to apply for inclusion on the supplementary register of electors or to amend their details.

Momentum is building in the presidential election campaign, and the public will be hearing a lot more from the six candidates – Peter Casey, Gavin Duffy, Joan Freeman, Seán Gallagher, Michael D Higgins, and Liadh Ní Riada – over the coming weeks.

The blasphemy referendum will also be held on October 26. The Referendum Commission’s guide has been posted to all households to bring everyone up to speed on the plebiscite. 

The government has proposed altering Article 40.6.1(i) of the Constitution. It reads as follows – the only relevant word is the one we’ve highlighted in bold:

The State guarantees liberty for the exercise of the following rights, subject to public order and morality:–
The right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions.
The education of public opinion being, however, a matter of such grave import to the common good, the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.
The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.

The government and the laws it creates are guided by the Constitution, and so the offence of blasphemy must be legislated for. You’ll find it in the Defamation Act 2009, and is an offence for which you can be fined up to €25,000. There is no prison sentence.

A Yes vote would remove the word ‘blasphemous’. This means the government would be no longer required to legislate for blasphemy.

A No vote would retain the word. This means the government would still be required to legislate for blasphemy.

You can read about the proposed change here in our explainer, and we’ll have more coverage over the coming weeks to help you make up your mind in both the referendum and the presidential election.

First, let’s make sure you’re registered to have your say in both.

3638 Polling Station_90545859 Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Only Irish citizens over the age of 18 are eligible to vote in both the referendum and the presidential election.

If you tick those two boxes, you’re halfway there:

  • If you think you’re already registered to vote, double-check. Visit CheckTheRegister.ie and input your details there. If you can find yourself, you’re sorted. You may need to try variations of your name and address before your information appears. If nothing works, and you’re fairly sure you are registered to vote, contact your local council’s franchise section and see if they can help.
  • If you’re not registered to vote, you’ll need a RFA2 form. It’s a straightforward form which you will need to bring to a garda station to be stamped (don’t forget to bring ID and also proof of address, just in case). Drop the completed form in to your local council before close of business today.
  • If you’re registered to vote but have moved recently, get a RFA3 form. This will allow you to add yourself to the supplementary register at your new address. It’s the same procedure as the RFA2 form – grab some ID and proof of address, head to the garda station, get it stamped, and drop it in to your local county council.
  • If you’re already registered to vote but recently became an Irish citizen, update your details with a RFA5 form.

The deadline has passed to register for a postal vote (available to Irish diplomats, members of An Garda Síochána and Defence Forces, prisoners, people with a physical illness or disability, students studying full-time in Ireland but away from home, and for those who would not be able to get to their polling station due to their job) and to be included on the special voters list (for people who live in hospitals, nursing homes or similar institutions).

And that’s it – if you have any niggling questions, Citizens Information has more details about the ins-and-outs of registering to vote here.

We’ll have more coverage in the coming weeks to help you make up your mind on both the referendum and election, as well as taking you through the process of voting on the day.

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About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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