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Voting facilities for people with disabilities

There are different supports available


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life


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Anyone who is eligible to vote should have the opportunity to have their say on polling day. For those with disabilities, there can be extra challenges involved in being able to access a polling station or in casting their vote. 

There are a number of supports in palce for those who might have trouble with accessibility. 

Alternative Polling Stations

For use if you:

  • Have difficulty accessing your local polling station

How you do it:

  • At least a week before polling day, apply in writing to your returning officer for permission to vote at another polling station in your constituency
  • Explain why you cannot access your local polling station, and suggest a polling station that would work for you
  • The returning officer will send you written permission to vote at that other polling station
  • Remember to take this with you when you vote, as well as the usual evidence of identity

Companion Voting

For use if you:

  • Have a visual or physical impairment which could prevent you from voting without assistance
  • Have a reading or writing disability which could prevent you from voting without assistance

How you do it:

  • Choose a voting companion. Your companion must be older than sixteen years of age, be neither a candidate nor an agent of a candidate, and not help more than two electors at one election
  • Your voting companion then simply accompanies you to a voting compartment and marks the ballot according to your wishes.
  • If your companion does not fulfill the above requirements, or if you would prefer not to use a voting companion, you can ask to be assisted by the presiding officer, the person who checks you in when you arrive at the station.
  • In this case, the presiding officer will ensure that no one at the polling station can overhear you, and will read the ballot to you if necessary and mark it according to your wishes.
  • If you would prefer to use a presiding officer, it’s also best to go to the polling station well before it closes at night, as this process may take a while.

Voting by Post

For use if you:

  • Have a physical disability or injury that prevents you from going to your local polling station

How you do it:

  • Apply to your county council or city corporation by filling out the PV1 form.
  • Your application must be received by November 25th or by 28 days before polling day.
  • Applications can be obtained in Garda stations, post offices, public libraries, local authority offices, and by phoning your local county council or city corporation.
  • In the case of a first application, you will usually need a medical certificate.
  • Then, at the election, you will be sent a set of voting documents that you simply fill out and post back.

Find out more about applying for the postal voters list here.

Voting in a Nursing Home or Hospital

For use if you:

  • Live in a hospital, nursing home, or at home and have a physical disability or illness that makes you unable to get to your local polling station

How you do it:

  • Apply to your county council or city corporation by November 25th to be entered on the special voters list, or by 28 days before polling day.
  • The applications can be obtained in the same way as described above, and also often require a medical certificate.
  • You will be notified of a day and a time when a special presiding officer and a Garda, who serves as a witness, will come to your place of residence to allow you to vote.
  • Only you, the Garda, and the officer are allowed to be present at the time; if you need assistance with marking the ballot, the special presiding officer will help you as described above for the polling station.

Other things to note:

Returning officers at your local polling station must make available a table and chair for electors who may find the polling booth unsuitable

It is also the duty of the returning officer to make known which polling stations in his or her constituency are not accessible for those with disabilities (although steps are taken to ensure that this is the case as little as possible)

Happy voting!

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Published Feb­ru­ary 2nd2016
Last updated Octo­ber 19th2018
Tags voting politics disability
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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