| 3.7°C Dublin

No polling card? You can still vote

SIX thousand polling stations will be open from 7am this morning to 10pm tonight as up to 3.2 million voters go to the polls.

Many voters have not received their polling card from their local authority but they do not need them to cast their vote.

The Department of the Environment has stressed that those who have not received or have mislaid their polling card can go to their polling station with appropriate identification.

A form of official photographic ID is recommended, such as a driving licence, passport, employers ID, student ID, bank documentation, marriage or birth certificate.

Casting your vote is simple. Simply mark the ballot paper in order of your preference: 1, 2, 3 and so on.

Spoiled votes are just that -- wasted -- and do not come into the equation for electing TDs.

Given the variety of candidates on offer, there is little evidence a spoiled vote serves any purpose as an alleged protest vote.

The glory of the Irish voting system is that a single vote can effectively offer support or even elect a number of different candidates.

The PR-STV (proportional representation by the single transferable vote) system allows for a vote to stay alive indefinitely throughout the count.

If a voter's first preference candidate is elected by reaching the quota on the first count or by being eliminated early in early counts, their vote has a chance of carrying further and electing other candidates.

Traditionally, there are different types of voters:

  • Plumpers: Voting for one party's candidate only and most associated with Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein.
  • Coalition voter: Some express votes for the parties they would like to see in coalition together, such as voting for Fine Gael and Labour.
  • Down-the-ballot voters: Only a few voters actually mark the ballot paper all the way down. Academic research shows most voters use four or five preferences.
  • Punishment voters: Voting all the way down and leaving a party last or not giving them any preference. It ensures the party will not benefit from your vote.
  • Value voters: Voting in line with the order in which you think a candidate will be eliminated. But this attempt to maximise the impact of your ballot is dangerous as the vote often will not live to its intended destination.

Irish Independent