Not sure if this has been covered but I could not spot a thread on this. This is not about who to vote for as that would be very presumptuous of me ... but is about how to use your vote to the maximum.
So on that note I hope you all don’t mind me throwing this in. Some of it may seem frivolous but I’m sure there are many 1st time voters and also others who never really put much thought into proportional representation. I hope I can make this as simple as possible as it can seem complex and if people have better ideas feel free to add.
How do I cast my vote?
An official at the station will take your polling card, mark your name off the register and give you a ballot paper and pen. If you do not have a polling card but know you are on the register make sure to bring a form of ID (Drivers Licence/Passport) and the official can reconcile your name against the register.
The ballot paper will list all the candidates alphabetically, and may also have their picture and party logo.
You rank your votes by number in order of your preference. No 1 being you first preference/choice 2 being your second preference etc. Mark your votes in order of preference - including as many names as you like.
Important: any other marking/writing on the ballot paper will make it invalid or a spoilt vote. i.e. If you are only voting for one person use 1 and not X. Do not scribble out a candidates name because you hate them as this will also spoil you vote. If you want to spoil you vote on purpose that is your choice.
Fold your ballot paper and return to the official's desk and place your vote in the ballot box.
Where do I go to vote?
Your local polling station should be indicated on your vote card which you should get through the post. The polling station is more often than not your local national school.
The Irish Voting system is quite a complex system called proportional representation so it is good to know how to make your vote count. As votes can be redistributed after the various multiple counts it can be very important to use your vote to the full. However I'm not going into the working of the system just trying to explain how to use it.
It is important to note that if you vote for just a single candidate, and that candidate does not make it, your vote is finished and you cannot aid any other candidates. The same applies if your single vote goes to a person who exceeds the quota to get elected as their surplus votes can help another candidate also.
The best way to vote is to vote for every candidate on the ballot paper as this shows your exact preference. So if there are 10 candidates in your area vote 1-10. It may sound confusing but this is the best way to make sure your vote does not help certain candidates as it may cancel out another person’s vote that goes to that person. Basically your last place preference vote is a non-vote for the person you do not want to get in by placing them last. If you only vote 1,2 & 3 you are still leaving the possibility of a non transfer of your vote. Remember (in simple terms) every time a candidate is elected or eliminated the next preference votes are distributed. Therefore you need to be very careful with your preference votes.
Further, if you have a total set against a particular party, for what ever reason, but your feel the local man in that party is “sound” you may be tempted to give that person a 3 or 4th preference. This is a common mistake if you want to block that particular party from gaining any ground over other parties. You really have to be very much disciplined and vote against the local man.
Note: This election is about the National outlook more than ever before so your councillor should be your local man to approach for any local issues not your national TD. Lets try and rid local politics from the Dail.