The Beginners Guide to Voting in the Irish General Election 2016

Stephen Allen

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Totally legit Picture Credit: Keith Ivey (Flickr)

      Totally legit Picture Credit:

Keith Ivey (Flickr

    )

Congratulations! You have been selected to be part of a very elite group of people; voters. Membership to this club includes everyone over the age of 18 and are Irish citizens. So, basically everyone you know.

With membership to this extravagant club comes a large responsibility. Every once in a while you will be asked to undertake a journey to that old school to put some numbers on a page before placing it into a giant box to select a leader.

Welcome to democracy. It is a strange thing if you think about it too hard. It is a confusing miasma of strange traditions and overly-smiling people calling to your door to talk about taxes.

"Taxes!" Picture Credit: Donkey Hotey (Flickr)
“Taxes!” Picture Credit: Donkey Hotey (Flickr)

Since the world of politics is such a confusing mess, let’s run down what you need to do today.

You probably received some form of card in the post over the last couple of days. Please refrain from shredding or burning this card. Sure, it’s proof that a nebulous organisation has a detailed file of your entire life and you’re not happy that organisation isn’t Apple. But it’s kind of important, so please no destroying it.

If you didn’t get a card, please check here to make sure you’re registered. If not, it’s kind of too late now. Please don’t just make up your own with ‘my vote’ scrawled in marker, apparently that isn’t considered ‘legal’.

You will need to bring that card and some ID to your local polling station which you look up here. Usually, it’s the local school that you’ve been trying to avoid since you graduated because it’s kind of weird to see it now that you are taller and less annoying.

Present the card to one of the two elderly lady who seem to have unreserved scorn for how young you are. If asked, please show this bored lady your embarrassing photo of you in your late teens or an ID, as some people like to call it.

You will be given a sheet of paper which you must bring to those wooden things which are weirdly just there.

Now democracy happens. You gloriously place pencil to paper and select the candidates who look the weirdest, or some sort of proper way to decide.

Or, you know, you could vote for bears. Picture Credit: seandalai (Flickr)
Or, you know, you could vote for bears. Picture Credit: seandalai (Flickr)

When you’re all done, place your vote into that foreboding monolith which probably contains a portal to the dimension where the counting imps reside. Please don’t yell out who you voted for or run away with that voting slip that you got so attached to.

Now that we’ve covered what you can do, let’s delve into what you need to avoid.

First of all, please don’t take selfies in the polling booth. Shockingly, taking pictures in the booth spoil your vote. It’s as if the government doesn’t want to see how fabulous you look while supporting the democratic process.

With that, I have to ask an awkward favour. Please, don’t take you phone out in the booth. I know, you might miss some important things and risk throwing yourself out of the loop forever by not checking your phone for two minutes. Some places ask you to leave your phone with those ladies who will probably change the language to Vietnamese.

The truth revealed. Picture Credit: Paul Walker (Flickr)
The truth revealed. Picture Credit: Paul Walker (Flickr)

Also, please don’t debate with the old man standing outside the polling station. For some reason, every polling stations have one of these guys. You may be thinking he’s just up for some debate but if you talk to him for a bit, it will probably end with him getting angry at you for  having a different opinion.

This man is there for the entire day to give you his opinion. He’s not interested in you changing it with any sort of facts or fancy figures.

Most importantly, if you have already voted; please don’t go on about how great you are for voting. Voting is like drinking alcohol: everyone has done it at least once, most kids can’t do it and it attracts people who like to brag about how better they are at it.

You may be thinking: “We had that referendum last year. It’s basically the same thing”. Well, Madame or Mister Fancy-Pants, you just happen to be wrong. Did last years referendum involve you writing numbers? I think not.

Unfortunately, today’s vote isn’t a simple yes or no question. It involves numbering, from your favourite to the least favourite, the faces of those people who were on the telly at one point or something.

That’s right, more than two options. You are supposed to keep up with all those leaflets and debates to make a clear and informed vote, which we all clearly do.

So, how does someone stay informed? I mean, you are only one person and it’s not as if there is a wealth of information on some form of world wide web. Alas, such a thing is a pipe dream.

If you followed this guide, you’ll either be confused or somehow managed to actually vote. Admittedly, the political process can be pretty dry and frequently dull. So, since you managed to power through your apathy to get your voice heard, here’s your reward:

You kids like pandas, right? Picture Credit: Marc Blickle (Flickr)
You kids like pandas, right? Picture Credit: Marc Blickle (Flickr)

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Stephen Allen