A change to electoral law means that any voters queuing at polling stations when polls close at 10pm tonight will still be able to vote, even if it is past 10pm.
The law change came in response to shambolic scenes at some polling stations in England during the 2010 General Election where hundreds of people were turned away because long queues to vote meant that at 10pm they had not been given a ballot paper.
The Electoral Commission, the independent elections watchdog, has issued guidance reminding voters of the identification which they need to bring to a polling station in order to vote.
Seamus Magee, head of the Electoral Commission in the Province, said: “In particular, it’s important that voters remember to take a correct form of ID with them to the polling station.”
Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm today and details of each voter’s polling station should be on their polling card.
The commission said that a polling card was not necessary to vote but could help speed up the process.
The commission said that voters must bring one of the following forms of ID:
l A UK, Irish or EU passport
l A UK, Irish or EEA driving licence
l A Translink Senior, 60+, War Disabled or Blind Person’s Smartpass
l An electoral identity card
Even if the identification is out of date it can still be used to vote.
Both of today’s elections – the European election and the council elections – are being held under the single transferable vote system which means that candidates are ranked in order of preference.
Voters should mark a ‘1’ beside the first choice candidate, a ‘2’ beside their second preference, a ‘3’ beside your third and so on.
The count for the local council elections takes place at 11 venues across Northern Ireland tomorrow and Saturday, with the first results expected tomorrow afternoon.
The European count takes place on Monday.