• Election 2020

The #GE2020 Polls Are Open: Here’s what you need to know

Polling Station
A banner points the way to an election polling station. Photo Credit: Rachael_H Flicker Creative Commons License.

Good morning. It’s here – General Election 2020. Here’s what you need to know ahead of a big, big day across the country.

/ A General Election? What’s that about?

Last month, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called a General Election and Dáil Éireann was dissolved by President Michael D Higgins. The last General Election was in 2016. Government’s may not sit for more than five years so the next General Election was due to be held in 2021.


However, with question marks over support for Fine Gael in the minority government, it was decided to hold the General Election now.

/ Why is the election on a Saturday?

The Taoiseach said that the election is being held on a Saturday to make it easier for working people and people with families to vote. In the past, elections have tended to be held on Thursdays and Fridays.

/ Who can I vote for?

Across the country there are 531 candidates vying for 160 seats. In Louth, you have the choice of 15 candidates to pick from. They are running for five available seats.


Here’s a quick at-a-glance look at who you have to choose from in Election 2020.

/ What time do the polls open?

The polls opened at 7am on Saturday (February 8) morning. They will remain open until 10pm on Saturday evening.

/ Where is my polling station?

In total, there are 209 polling stations in Louth. Your polling station will be stated on your polling card. If you dont’t have it, log on to http://www.checktheregister.ie and search your name and address. This will tell you which polling station you need to attend.

/ Do I need to bring anything with me?

If you are registered to vote, you should have been sent a polling card in the post. If you have it, bring it. It will help hurry along the process. But if you don’t seem to have it or can’t find it, don’t worry. You don’t need it.

Make sure you bring photographic ID. This is because at every polling station a certain number of voters will be asked to produce a form of identification.

This can be a; passport, driving license, employee identity card, student identity card, a bank or credit union book containing your address within the constituency, a public services card or a travel document with a name or photograph.

/ What do I do once I get to the polling station?

Approach the staff and hand in your polling card or simply state your name and address. They will mark your name off their list and hand you a ballot paper.

You then have to enter a polling booth and fill in your ballot paper. When finished, just fold it over and put it into the ballot box. The staff will show you were it is.

/ How do I fill in the ballot paper?

X DOES NOT MARK THE SPOT. Do not use ‘x’ to identify your candidate of choice. You must use numbers. If you use any letters or symbols, your ballot may be marked as spoiled and not counted.

Write ‘1’ beside your first preference vote, then write ‘2’ beside your second preference and so on.

/ Do I have to give every candidate on the paper a preference?

You are under no obligation to give a number to all 15 candidates. You can vote for as many or as few candidates as you wish.

Once your first preference is elected or eliminated, your second preference is then counted. When your second choice is elected or eliminated, it moves on to your third preference and so on.

Give your first preference to the candidate you most want to see elected and then in descending order of preference down to the one you like least. It is important to remember that a lower preference can never interfere with a higher one. Your number two will only come into play if your first preference is eliminated or elected and so on.

But, ultimately, it is up to you how many candidates you vote for.

/ Spoiled ballot papers – is anyone really stupid enough to do that?

In 2016, there were 747 invalid or spoiled ballot papers in Louth. That was down from 871 in 2011.

/ Can I partake in canvassing at or in the polling station?

Absolutely not. All canvassing, displaying of or distributing campaign material is illegal when done within 50m of a polling station on election day. That is from 6.30am to 10.30pm (remember polls are open from 7am to 10pm).

/ Can I take a selfie or a photo inside the polling station or booth?

No, this is strictly prohibited. Do not do this.

/ Is it too late to register to vote?

Yes. It’s too late. Check on http://www.checktheregister.ie if you’re ensure or you can attend your polling station and ask staff if your name is on the list. If it’s not, you cannot vote.

/ When will I know who is elected?

Counting takes place across the country on Sunday. In Louth, the ballots from across the county will be tallied at The Carnbeg Hotel in Dundalk. Results will emerge throughout the day.

/ What happened in at the last General Election in 2016?

Gerry Adams topped the polls in 2016, ahead of Fianna Fáil’s Declan Breathnach, with running mate Imelda Munster of Sinn Féin following with a strong showing. Fergus O’Dowd and Peter Fitzpatrick, both sitting TDs entering the 2016 election, were the fourth and fifth candidates elected.

2016 was the first time five seats were contested in the Louth constituency, up from four in 2011.

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