So, you've registered to vote, checked and checked again that you're actually on the register (you can do that here, FYI), and you've your day planned out so you've plenty of time to vote between 7am-10pm.
Go you! Organised and using your voice.
The last thing you'd want to do is mess it all up at the final hurdle. There's been a lot of confusion doing the rounds about voting rules at polling stations, and considering over 125,000 people are voting for the first time, chances are you won't know what to do.
So we've laid it out for ya, niiiiice and simple.
Maybe you don't need this info, but someone you know might – so pass it on, spread the word, and let's make sure not a single vote is wasted this Friday.
DO plan your voting time and location
Obvious point: find out where you need to go to vote. If you have a polling card, this information will be contained on it; if you don’t, find out on checktheregister.ie
Less obvious point: pick a time you’re going to vote, and stick to it. It’s a Friday, things tend to be up in the air, and if you don’t mark off a part of the day, it could easily get lost in the madness. Don’t let that happen; you’ll only end up regretting it.
The polls are open from 7am to 10pm; that’s 15 hours, and leaves very little excuse for not finding the time.
DO leave your badges, signs and jumpers etc at home
This is a bit up in the air, but there are laws in place designed to prevent campaigning at polling stations – these apply to posters within a certain radius of the polling station, leaflets, flags, banners and anything that encourages a vote for one side over the other.
If you show up wearing something along these lines, you may be asked to remove it; this isn't an act of political sabotage, but just the polling station doing their job.
DON’T take a selfie or any photograph in the voting booth
Voting is done by secret ballot and the Department of the Environment says “taking photographs and the sharing of any photograph of a ballot paper marked at an election or a referendum could have the potential to compromise the integrity and secrecy of a ballot and may constitute an offence”.
So resist the urge to snap a selfie, please. If you want to take a pic of you doing your bit for democracy, take a photo outside the polling station either before or after you've voted - not inside.
DON'T forget your polling card or other form of official identification
You should have received a polling card but you don't need it to vote. You must bring a valid form of personal identification, such as a passport, official student identification or driving licence, with you when you go to vote.
DO make sure you read the question being asked in the ballot very carefully and mark your answer with an 'X'
You should mark "X" in either the "yes" or the "no" box on the paper, then show the back of the ballot paper to the polling officials, fold it and place it in a sealed ballot box. Any other mark will spoil your vote.
For voters with disabilities, if you are voting at a polling station, you may be helped to vote in one of three ways – by companion voting, by assistance from the presiding officer or by using a tactile ballot paper template.
On 25th May 2018 you are being asked whether or not to delete the present Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, which grants equal rights to the life of the unborn and the mother, and replace it with a new provision for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.
If you want to repeal the Eighth Amendment, place an X in the Yes box.
If you want to retain the Eighth Amendment, place an X in the No box.
The legal effect of a YES vote
If a majority votes Yes, this will allow the Oireachtas to pass laws regulating the termination of pregnancy. These laws need "not limit the availability of termination to circumstances where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother."
Draft legislation put forward by Health Minister Simon Harris proposes for legal abortion up to 12 weeks without restriction through a GP-led service. This is based on the recommendation of the Oireachtas Eighth Amendment Committee.
After 12 weeks, a termination of pregnancy would be legal if two medical practitioners confirm the following three things at the same time:
- there's a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or a risk of serious harm to her
- the foetus has not reached viability
- and the termination of pregnancy is an appropriate way to avert the risk.
If a majority votes Yes, the current law, including the law on travel and information, will remain in place unless and until it is changed by new law or is declared invalid by the courts.
The legal effect of a NO vote
If a majority votes No, then the present law will remain in place unchanged. Laws may be passed to "provide for the termination of pregnancy only where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother including the risk of suicide. The constitutional provisions on freedom to travel and information will remain as they are now."
Whatever way you're voting, be sure to make yourself heard.