The system of voting in use in the Republic of Ireland is the system of Proportional Representation (PR) in multi-seated constituencies by means of the Single Transferable Vote [STY] and is by secret ballot. This system enables the voter to indicate his/her first and subsequent choices for the candidates on the Ballot paper.

Notice of Polling Day

You should receive a Polling Card which shows your name address and number on the electoral register. This card will also tell you the location of the Polling Station in which you are to vote. It will also tell you the date and hours which the Polling Station are open.

Conduct of Polling

At the commencement of an Election there is a RETURING OFFICER appointed for each constituency/Electoral Area. They appoint staff to supervise the casting of votes (Ballot) at appointed polling stations. Each Polling Station is under the supervision of a Presiding Officer who supervises the conduct of the issue of ballot papers to those registered to vote ensuring that each paper is stamped. They are also charged with the control and safe keeping of the Ballot Boxes. Each Polling station has a Garda presence during the hours of Polling and until the Ballot Boxes are collected.

Collection and Delivery of Ballot Boxes

At the conclusion of the Polling Station Hours the Presiding Officer seals each Ballot Box. They make a statement of the number of Ballot Papers issued for each box. The returning Officer will have put in place arrangements for the collection of the Ballot Boxes and their deliver to a central location; this is commonly known as the count center.

Counting of Votes

This does not commence until the following day to the Election Day and counting commences at 9.00am at each center. This rule does not apply in the case of European Elections as the ballot is held on different days across Europe. Therefore in those elections counting does not commence until the day after the last ballot is cast in Europe.

Calculating a Quota

A quota is the number of votes required to elect a candidate. This is arrived at by the establishment of the Total Valid Poll (TVP) divided by the number of seats plus one seat plus one vote. So in a four seat constituency with a TVP of 10,000 the quota is 10,000 / (4+1) = 2,000 + one vote = 2001.

Distribution of Votes to Candidates

The Returning Officer has votes in the first instance sorted to each candidate by the number 1 vote on each ballot paper. On the basis of the outcome of this a candidate will be deemed elected they will have secured the quota or if no one reaches the quota then the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated. In the case of a candidate deemed elected their surplus votes are distributed in order of the second preference. When a candidate is eliminated their votes are distributed on the basis of the preference shown on their ballot papers.


Irish Proportional Representation [IPR] IS CONDUCTED IN THE FOLLOWING

The names of the candidates appear on the Ballot Paper in alphabetical order, accompanied by their photographs, (their Party designation, if any, is also shown).


Vote 1, 2, 3, etc., in Order of Your Choice

  • The voter indicates his/her choice by writing 1 opposite the name of his/her first
    choice and 2 opposite the name of his/her second choice, 3 opposite the name of
    third choice and so on. A voter may stop after marking number 1 or any
    subsequent preference or may go right down the ballot paper until a preference
    has been given to all candidates.
  • In this way, the voter instructs the Returning Officer to transfer the vote to the
    second choice candidate if the first choice is either elected with a surplus of votes
    over the required number of votes (i.e. over the Quota) or is eliminated, the vote
    may be transferred to the third choice and so on.

The Tally and the Mixing of Votes

  • As part of the count process, after the initial tally of each ballot box, all the Ballot
    Papers for the Constituency are thoroughly mixed and then sorted according to the
    first choices recorded for each candidate.

Spoiled Ballot Papers

  • Spoiled papers are rejected (i.e. if they are written on, do not have the official
    stamp, or do not indicate a clear choice e.g. two No. Is). When these are deducted
    from the total poll you get the total valid poll (TVP).

Calculating the Quota (the maximum votes necessary to be elected).

  • Divide the TVP by one more than the number of seats to be filled, and then add 1
    vote. Thus in a 4-seat constituency if say 50,000 valid votes are cast then you
    divide 50,000 by 4 plus 1 (i.e. 5) which equals 10,000 by 4, as there are 4 seats, it
    gives a total of 40,004. Deducting this from 50,000 votes leaves a balance of
    9,996, leaving insufficient votes left for a 5th candidate to pass out any of the other
    four who got 10,001. In a 3-seater you divide the TVP by 4 and in a 5-seater you
    divide by 6. A candidate can be elected without reaching the quota.

Note: To explain further why, in arriving at the Quota, you divide the total vote by the number of seats to be filled plus 1, and then add 1 vote. In relation to the above example, you will see that, at the end of the first count of all votes, any candidate who has received a number of votes equal to or greater than the quota is deemed to be elected.

Transferring a Surplus

If a candidate receives more than the quota on the first count, all their votes are distributed as per the 2s on these ballot papers.  The number of papers assigned to each succeeding candidate are calculated as a percentage of the total. The surplus is then divided in accord with each succeeding candidate’s percentage..

A surplus of votes may arises when a candidate has been elected by transferred votes from an elected or eliminated candidate. In that case, only the papers in the parcel last transferred to the successful candidate are examined and this parcel is then treated in the same way as a surplus on the first count consisting
of first preference votes.

If two or more candidates exceed the quota at the same time, the larger surplus is distributed first.

If, at the end of any Count, no candidate has a’ surplus or the surplus is insufficient either to elect one of the remaining candidates or to materially effect the progress of the Count, the lowest of the remaining Candidates is eliminated and his/her votes are transferred to the candidates according to the next preference indicated on them.

What Happens to the Votes of an Eliminated Candidate?

In the case of a candidate who is eliminated only the votes than show a next preference for a remaining but still un-elected candidate are actually transferred. If a Ballot Paper is to be transferred and the 2nd preference shown on it is for a candidate already elected or eliminated the vote passes to the 3rchoice and so on.

Returning Officer Declares Result to the Clerk of the Dail

When the count is completed, the Returning Officer (the person charged by law with officiating at the counting of votes) declares the results of the election and returns the names of the elected members to the Secretary of the Local Authority or Clerk of the Dail as appropriate.


In order to be able to vote at an election or referendum, a person’s name must be entered on the Register of Electors. Local Authorities around the country are the Registration Authorities. Every year a Register of Electors is Published on the 14th February and is then used at each election or referendum that is held in the following twelve months.


Every resident of Ireland over 18 years of age can register on the Register of Electors, regardless of nationality. However, nationality does affect which election an elector is allowed to vote in (see Citizenship below). Registration takes place in October/November.


If a person is not included in the Register of Electors but thinks they qualify for registration, they may apply for entry to the Supplementary Register. If their application is received no later than 13 days before polling day, and they qualify for registration, then they will be included in the Supplementary Register. This is very important with a General Election approaching.


Any person may inspect the Register or draft Register. The Register can be inspected

Offices of Local Authorities
Public Libraries
Post Offices
Garda Stations

The relevant Local Authorities WEB Site


While every adult (over 18) resident can be registered in the Register of electors, citizenship is required in order to vote at certain elections. A declaration of citizenship or non-citizenship is made at the time of filling out the form to register as a voter.


Irish Citizens
British Citizens
Other EU Citizens
Non EU Citizens

May vote in all elections and Referenda

may vote in Dail, European and Elections but not in Presidential
Elections or Referenda

may vote in European and Local Elections

may vote in Local elections only.


A person must be ordinarily resident at the address at which they are registering to vote from.’ They may be registered from one address only. If they live away from home (for example going to college) then they must give only one of the two addresses to the registrar. They may not register at two addresses.


There is provision for people to vote through the postal system. Those who can vote by post are:

Members of the Defence Forces
Members of the Garda Siochana
Irish Diplomats posted abroad and their spouses.


There is also a Special Voters List prepared as part of the Register of Electors. Voters with physical disabilities who wish to vote at home can be included on this list. Those on the Special Voters List can vote at home by marking a ballot paper delivered to them by a special presiding officer accompanied by a member of the Gardai.

Should you require these forms please use the link below.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you any difficulty with this.

086 2577672
[email protected]
T: lECBoland