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A guide to voting in the Assembly Election

Graphic showing a person posting a ballot in a ballot box. Text reads "A guide to voting in the Assembly Election".

Do you know how to vote in the Assembly election on 5 May? Here's everything you need to know about voting - including how to register, when and where to vote, and who can vote by post or proxy.

Checking your Registration

Once you are registered to vote (if you aren't sure check with the Electoral Office by calling 028 9044 6680 or checking on their website by following this link) there are a few things you need to remember to take with you to your local polling station. 

Voting at a Polling Station

When you vote at a polling station you will need to show 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 (or Irish passport card)
  • An Electoral Identity Card (use this link to apply for an Electoral ID Card)
  • A Translink Senior SmartPass
  • A Translink 60+ SmartPass
  • A Translink War Disabled SmartPass
  • A Translink Blind Person’s SmartPass

Your ID document doesn't need to be current. But the photograph must good enough to allow polling station staff to recognise you.

Bring your Polling Card if you have one but don't worry if you forget it as the staff can check your details at the polling station. Having your polling card just speeds up the process.

Proxy Votes and Postal Votes

You can find details on the Electoral Office website on how to vote by post or how to use a proxy vote by following this link.

How to cast your vote

The system of voting used to elect MLAs to the Northern Ireland Assembly is the Single Transferable Vote or STV. This is a form of Proportional Representation.

In the Assembly election on 5 May there will be five seats per constituency to fill. When you go to your polling station the staff will give you a list of candidates in your constituency. You then rate those candidates by your preference.

So, for your first preferred candidate you will put a ‘1’ in the box next to their name. A ‘2’ in the box next to the name of your second preferred candidate and so on. There is no maximum or minimum number of preferences to mark. You could choose to give a preference to all candidates or to one or two. 

When the polls close the ballot boxes will be delivered to the counting centres throughout Northern Ireland. The actual count takes place the following day, Friday 6 May. It can take a couple of days for all the votes to be checked and counted.

If you want to know more about how STV and your votes works in the Assembly election read our article "A guide to the Single Transferable vote (or how you vote in an Assembly election."


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