How to vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections

The campaigning's done and dusted and today we go to the polls to vote the 108 members of the Stormont Assembly.

Thursday, 5th May 2016, 6:13 am

Will we see familiar faces returning, or new ones arriving to take their seat up on the hill? Only time will tell.

If you are a first time voter, the whole thing may seem a little confusing. Hopefully the quick guide below will help you have your say in today’s Election.

Who is eligible to vote?

To vote in a Northern Ireland Assembly election, you must be registered to vote in Northern Ireland and 18 years of age or over on polling day. You must also be:

∙ British or Irish citizen, or

∙ Commonwealth citizen, who has leave to remain in the UK or who does not require leave to remain in the UK, or

a citizen of another European Union country

You’ll get a polling card before the election, telling you where and when to vote. Polling stations are open from 7.00 am to 10.00 pm on the day of an election.

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

∙ UK, Irish or EEA driving licence (photographic part) (provisional accepted)

∙ UK, Irish or EU passport (note: EU passports are not accepted at UK Parliamentary elections)

∙ Electoral Identity Card

∙ Translink Senior SmartPass

∙ Translink 60+ SmartPass

∙ Translink War Disabled SmartPass

∙ 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.

Polling station facilities for voters with disabilities

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

∙ polling booth with a shelf at a height suitable for people in wheelchairs

∙ polling booth with extra lighting

∙ large print version of the ballot paper

∙ 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.

Single Transferable Vote

The voting system used in Northern Ireland is called the Single Transferable Vote system.

When you vote in an election for the Northern Ireland Assembly you will be given a ballot paper listing the candidates competing for the six seats in your constituency. You should rank these candidates in order of preference – you can rank as many candidates as you like.

The staff at the polling station will give you a ballot paper listing the candidates you can vote for. You may be given more than one ballot paper if there is more than one election taking place in your local area on the same day.

Take your ballot paper into a polling booth so that no one can see how you vote. Read the ballot paper carefully, it will tell you how to cast your vote. Do not write anything else on the paper or your vote may not be counted.

Mark your ballot paper according to the instructions. A pencil will be provided for you to do this, but you may use your own pen if you prefer.

If you make a mistake on your ballot paper, don’t worry – so long as you haven’t already put it in the ballot box, just let the polling station staff know and they can issue you with a replacement ballot paper.

Fold your completed ballot paper in half, show the back to the Presiding Officer and then pop it in the ballot box – and that’s it done!