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Q&A: How to make sure you’re registered to vote before the 22nd of January

Warning that thousands of young people may have been left off the Register


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


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An Taoiseach has called a general election for Saturday, 8th February in which every voter in Ireland will be asked to have their say on who they want to represent them in the next Dáil. The general election is the way in which Irish voters choose the parties that will make up the next government, and usually happens every four or five years.

There has been a lot of talk on social media in the last few days that thousands of young people who have recently registered to vote may not actually be registered to cast their ballot in the General Election on Saturday 8th February 2020. This is due to a legal problem with a delay in the current registration system.

To make sure you get to cast your vote on the 8th of February, read our Q&A below.

Will I be able to vote in the general election 2020? 

What is the Register of Electors?

In order to vote in a general election, a person must have applied to be on the Register of Electors. This is the official list of voters, which is put together by Ireland’s county and city councils each year. Anyone who has Irish or British citizenship, is over 18 and lives in Ireland has a right to be registered to vote in a general election.

What is the Supplementary Register?

People who want to vote but have not been added to the Register of Electors can still have their say if they apply to be on the Supplementary Register. This is an extra list of voters that is added during an election campaign. Once a person is on the Supplementary Register, they will be able to vote as it is no different to being on the main Register of Electors.

What should I do if I have never registered to vote before?

If you have never registered to vote before and want to have your say in the general election, you will need to be added to the Supplementary Register. 

To do this you will need to:  

  • Download and print the RFA2 form here
  • Fill out your details
  • Visit a Garda station with I.D. and ask them to stamp it for you
  • Then, send it in the post to the Franchise Section of your local county or city council

Your form will need to arrive at your local county or city council by the time they close on the 22nd of January 2020 for you to be able to vote in this general election.

What should I do if I registered to vote any time before the Local and European Elections in May 2019?

If you voted in the 2019 Local and European elections or previous referendums, then you should still be registered, but you should make sure you are definitely registered by visiting checktheregister.ie and entering your name and address. If you are in any doubt, call the Franchise Section of your local county or city council and ask the officials there to check for you.

If you have moved address since you last registered to vote, you will need to update your details so you can vote in your new local area. Download and print the RFA3 form here, fill in your details, and get it stamped at any Garda station after showing them your I.D. Then, post the form to the Franchise Section of your local county or city council. You will find this address on your local county or city website. 

If you can’t find yourself on the register, the safest thing to do is to download and print a new RFA2 form here. Fill out your details, visit a Garda station and ask them to stamp it for you. Then, send it in the post to the Franchise Section of your local county or city council.

Your form will need to arrive at your local county or city council by the time they close on the 22nd of January 2020 to make sure you are correctly registered in time for the next general election.

What should I do if I registered to vote any time in the last eight months?

If you registered to vote within the last eight months, there is a chance that your name has not yet been added to the Register of Electors. You can check by visiting checktheregister.ie and searching your name and address. If you are in any doubt, call the Franchise Section of your local county or city council and ask the officials there to check for you.

If you can’t find yourself on the register, the safest thing to do is to download and print a new RFA2 form here. Fill out your details, visit a Garda station with I.D. and ask them to stamp it for you. Then, send it in the post to the Franchise Section of your local county or city council.

Your form will need to arrive at your local county or city council by the time they close on the 22nd of January 2020 to make sure you can vote in the next general election.

Why is my previous registration not coming up?

The Register is updated every year in mid-February, meaning that the next general election will take place before county councils will have had a chance to add the names of new voters who have registered in the last eight months.

At the moment, there is a lot of confusion among county councils and the government as to whether or not the names of new voters who registered in the last eight months can be legally added in time for polling day.

If you are unsure whether or not you are registered to vote, call the Franchise Section of your local county or city council and ask the officials there to check for you. Alternatively, you can guarantee you will be able to vote by completing a new form, presenting ID and getting it stamped at a Garda station, and sending it to your local county or city council by the time they close on the 22nd of January 2020.

What should I do if I’m not sure which is my local county or city council?

All forms mentioned in this article need to be sent to the Franchise Section of your local county or city council before they close on the 22nd of January 2020. But don’t worry if you’re not sure which local council is the correct one for you to contact.

Most counties only have a single county council. If you live anywhere other than Dublin, Cork or Galway, then your local council is the name of your county followed by the words “county council”. For instance, if you live in Roscommon your local council is Roscommon County Council. If you live in Galway or Cork, then your local council may be either Galway/Cork City Council or Galway/Cork County Council. You can find a map of the area covered by Cork City Council here

If you live in Dublin, your local council will be one of the following: Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council, South Dublin County Council, or Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. You can find a basic map of the different council areas here.

Official advice from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

People should take the following steps to ensure that they are correctly registered to vote at the forthcoming general election.

Step 1: Check the Register

Check online at checktheregister.ie if your details are included on the 2019-2020 electoral register. Alternatively, people can check directly with their local authority. If your details are included correctly no further action is necessary. 

Step 2: Contact your Local Authority 

If your details are not included on the 2019-2020 register you should contact the relevant local authority where you live and check if your details are included in the supplement to the register of electors. If your details are included in the supplement to the register of electors no further action is required.

Step 3: Register again before the 22nd January 2020

If your details are not included in either the register or the supplement to the register you should obtain the appropriate application from your local authority (or download it from checktheregister.ie) and complete the relevant form and, before signing the declaration, bring it along with photo ID to your local Garda station and sign it in the presence of a Member of An Garda Síochána, who will then stamp the form. Forms must reach the local authority on or before close of business on 22 January 2020 in order for people to be registered for this election. People must call to the local authority to register, or send by post.

Remember, your vote is important. Check back here or keep an eye on our twitter for any updates and relevant content in the run up to the 2020 General Election.

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Published Jan­u­ary 14th2020
Last updated Jan­u­ary 24th2020
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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