GE16 PSA: Filling Out Your Ballot

This is a public service announcement ahead of the 2016 general election.

Exercising your right to vote is a vital part of the democratic experience. It's also your civil duty, so it's very important you don't fuck it up. Ireland's PR-STV system can make filling in your ballot a bit confusing though. This guide is here to let you know exactly what to do to ensure your vote is counted.

  • Fill in the empty boxes beside each candidate in order of preference. Start with 1 for the candidate you most prefer.
  • You don't have to use numbers to indicate your preference. Letters work equally well. Start with A for your preferred candidate. Words and phrases are also acceptable eg "great", "grand", "good", "okay", "alright, I guess", "absolute dick".
  • If glyphs aren't your thing, you can also indicate your preference by drawing faces beside each candidate – your preference will be determined by how happy each face you draw is. Penises can be substituted for faces – your preference will be determined by how erect each penis you draw is.
  • If on polling day you're still unsure of who to vote for you can ask polling station staff to give you a "lucky dip" ballot. Use a coin to scratch off the boxes. You'll then see what preferences you'll be giving candidates. Once you request a lucky dip you are ineligible to receive a replacement ballot.
  • The Electoral Act 2008 states that all candidates must read through every ballot with superfluous text written on it by a voter. This can provide you with a great opportunity to vent your political views, anonymously threaten politicians or get some feedback on a piece of creative writing.
  • Do not fold your ballot into a paper airplane. This is not technically illegal, but it can easily distract count centre staff and lead them to start a paper airplane contest using whatever ballots they have at hand. This can, and in the past has, ruined entire counts.
  • To help you identify each candidate and what they stand for their political party's logo will appear on the ballot. These logos are scratch and sniff to provide you additional sensory input while mulling over their policies.
  • Your vote will be deemed a spoil if you sneeze within the voting booth or if your shoelace becomes untied while in the polling station.
  • You can alter any candidates' names on the ballot without spoiling your vote. If a majority of people all happen to select the same new name for a candidate their name will be deemed to have changed legally. This happened to Dick Spring in the 1987 general election.
  • If your polling station is on Catholic Church property you are required to disclose who you voted for to any priest or bishop that asks.