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Electoral Office Northern Ireland Voting Systems

Organisation : The Electoral Office of Northern Ireland
Facility : Voting Systems
Country : Northern Ireland

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Voting Systems :
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EONI Voting Systems in Northern Ireland

** Voting systems are the method by which we elect representatives.

Related : Electoral Office of Northern Ireland Apply For an Electoral Card :

** A voting system determines the rules on how parties and candidates are elected.


** First-past-the-post is used to elect MPs to the House of Commons.
** Under first-past-the-post, the UK is divided into numerous voting areas known as constituencies.
** At a UK Parliamentary election (also known as a general election), voters put a cross (X) next to their preferred candidate on the ballot paper.
** Ballot papers are then counted and the candidate who has received the most votes is elected to represent the constituency.

Single Transferable Vote (STV)

** The Single Transferable Vote system is used to elect members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, European Parliament and Local Councils.
** Multi-member constituencies are required for STV which means constituencies elect several representatives rather than just one.
** Under STV, voters rank candidates in order of preference by marking 1, 2, 3 and so on next to the names of candidates on a ballot paper.
** A voter can rank as many or as few candidates as they like or just vote for one candidate.
** Each candidate needs a minimum number of votes to be elected.
** This number is calculated according to the number of seats and votes cast and is called a quota.
** The first preference votes for each candidate are added up and any candidate who has achieved this quota is elected.
** If a candidate has more votes than are needed to fill the quota, that candidate’s surplus votes are transferred to the remaining candidates.
** Votes that would have gone to the winner instead go to the second preference listed on those ballot papers.
** If candidates do not meet the quota, the candidate with the fewest first preference votes is eliminated and the second preference votes are transferred to other candidates.
** These processes are repeated until all the seats are filled

Which elections can I vote at? :
To check if you are eligible to be included on the electoral register, visit the Registration FAQs page.
** Provided you are listed on the electoral register and at least 18 years of age on the day of the election, you can vote at the following elections

British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen :
You can vote at all elections.

European citizen (not British or Irish) :
You can automatically vote at Northern Ireland Assembly and Local Council elections. You can only vote at European Parliamentary elections in Northern Ireland if you have completed a European elector registration form which will be available to download from the Special Category Registration page in advance of the next European Parliamentary election. European citizens are not eligible to vote at UK Parliamentary elections.

Overseas Elector :
You can vote at UK Parliamentary and European Parliamentary elections. You are not eligible to vote at Northern Ireland Assembly or Local Council elections. You can only vote by proxy (where you appoint someone to vote on your behalf) as postal votes cannot be issued outside the UK. If you happen to be at home on the day of the election you can vote in place of your proxy. You can download a form to register as an Overseas Elector from the Special category registration page.

Voting at Polling Place

Polling places are usually located in local schools, church halls or public buildings.
If you are listed on the electoral register, shortly after the election is announced you will receive a poll card which includes the following information:
** your electoral number
** your electoral area
** the date and hours of the poll
** the location of your polling station
** a list of acceptable identity documents
** instructions for voting
** the number of the EONI Helpline

Poll cards are for information purposes only – they are not required to vote.
If you’re not sure where your polling station is, you can search by post code to find out.

When you vote at a polling station you will be required to produce one of the following documents to confirm your identity:
** A UK, Irish or EEA driving licence (photographic part) (provisional accepted)
** A UK, Irish or EU passport (note: EU passports are not accepted at UK Parliamentary elections)
** An Electoral Identity Card
** A Translink Senior SmartPass
** A Translink 60+ SmartPass
** A Translink War Disabled SmartPass
** A 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.
** It also doesn’t matter if the identity document has a different address to your current address on the register.
** The polling station is the area within the polling place where you cast your vote.
** It consists of a table where polling staff issue ballot papers, a polling booth where you mark your ballot paper and a ballot box where you insert your ballot paper once it has been completed.
** A polling place may have only one polling station or several.
** If there is only one polling station in a room, you will see a sign outside the door of the room where it is located.
** If there is more than one polling station in a room, you will see a sign on each ballot box and issuing table indicating which table you are to go to.
** For example, if you are elector number 220, and a box is labelled ‘Ballot box number 0-300’, you would go to that box.
** If you don’t have your poll card with you, just ask a member of polling station staff to direct you to the right table.
** Persons under the age of 18 who accompany voters
** Persons under the age of 18 may accompany voters into the polling station.
** Polling station staff can limit the number of those under 18 allowed in the polling station at any one time if they consider their attendance to be impeding the proceedings in any way.
** Polling station facilities for voters with disabilities

The following facilities are available at polling stations to assist voters with disabilities:
** a polling booth with a shelf at a height suitable for people in wheelchairs
** a polling booth with extra lighting
** a large print version of the ballot paper
** a 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.
** If you cannot mark the ballot paper yourself due to a disability, you can have it marked for you by a companion or by the person in charge of the polling station (the Presiding Officer).
** You will need to tell the polling station staff that this is how you want to vote and why.
** If your companion is voting for you they will be asked to fill in a form. Your ballot paper will be marked and placed in the ballot box on your behalf.

The companion must be either:
** A registered elector; or
** Over 18 years old and the parent/brother/sister/spouse/civil partner/child of the elector they are assisting
A companion cannot assist more than two electors to vote at an election.

Voting Procedure

At the polling station table:
** A member of the polling station staff will ask you to confirm your name and address.
** You will be asked to produce your photographic identification (see list above).
** They will issue the ballot paper to you.
** You should then go to the polling booth, mark your ballot paper, fold it to conceal your vote and insert it into the ballot box.
If you need assistance you should ask a member of polling staff.

Close of poll :
The doors to the polling station will be closed at 10pm. If at 10pm you are in the polling station, or in a queue outside the polling station, you can still apply for a ballot paper.

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