General Election 2024: Northern Ireland voting guide as country goes to the polls

A ballot box at Agape Centre in south Belfast ahead of polling stations opening
-Credit: (Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire)

With just days to go until people across Northern Ireland can cast their vote in the General Election, the final stage is approaching.

The UK goes to the polls this Thursday, July 4th for the latest General Election in as many years with 18 Northern Ireland seats in the House of Commons to be filled.

There are 136 candidates for Northern Ireland's Westminster constituencies and nail biters expected in several key seats - some held by just a couple of thousand votes or only a handful in some cases.

READ MORE: The five key constituencies to watch in NI for Westminster election

READ MORE: Full list of candidates running in the General Election in Northern Ireland

The 136 figure is significantly higher than the 102 candidates in the last General Election in 2019. Since then there have also been a number of boundary changes, which could impact party strengths in some of the constituencies.

Back in 2019, Northern Ireland returned eight DUP MPs, seven Sinn Fein MPs – who do not take their seats in the Commons – two SDLP MPs and one Alliance MP.

This time, Alliance and the SDLP are contesting every one of the 18 seats up for grabs, while the UUP has candidates in 17 seats, the DUP in 16 and Sinn Fein in 14. TUV, which did not run in the 2019 General Election, formed an electoral alliance with Reform UK ahead of July’s poll and is standing in 14 constituencies.

Of the smaller NI parties, the Greens are running in 11 constituencies, Aontu is running in 10 constituencies and People Before Profit are running in three constituencies.

Meanwhile, the Conservative Party are running five candidates and there are nine independent candidates and one for Cross Community Labour Alternative.

So if you want to make sure your vote counts this Thursday, the Electoral Office of Northern Ireland has you covered with this handy guide to how to vote in this election.

Who is eligible to vote at the UK Parliamentary election?

All persons who are:

  • Listed on the electoral register

  • At least 18 years of age on 4 July 2024

  • British, Irish and qualifying Commonwealth citizens*

* "qualifying Commonwealth citizen" means that the applicant must have leave to remain in the United Kingdom or not require such leave, i.e. they must be in the UK legally.

I haven't received a poll card - what should I do?

You can vote without your poll card, provided you are listed on the Register of Electors. If you are unsure if you are listed on the Register of Electors, check here.

I've lost my poll card - can you issue a replacement?

We cannot issue replacement poll cards. You do not need your poll card to vote, it is for information purposes only. You should go to your polling station on polling day with your ID and you will be able to vote. If you are unsure where your polling station is, check on the 'Where to Vote' section on the homepage.

What ID do I need to bring to vote?

  • A UK, Irish or EEA driving licence (photo part) (provisional accepted)

  • A UK or Irish Passport (or Irish Passport Card)

  • An Electoral Identity Card

  • A Translink Senior SmartPass

  • A Translink 60+ SmartPass

  • A Translink Half Fare SmartPass

  • A Translink Registered Blind SmartPass

  • A Translink War Disablement SmartPass

  • A Biometric Immigration Document

The identification document does not need to be current, as long as the photograph is of a good enough likeness to allow polling station staff to confirm the identity of the holder.

Why has my polling station changed?

The vast majority of people have been allocated to the same polling station that they were in for the 2023 Local Elections. Some people will have to change from the 2023 Local Election polling station to accommodate UK Parliament constituency boundaries and some have had to change to accommodate the 2023 Boundary Commission review.

How do I mark my ballot paper at this election?

On the ballot paper, mark a cross (X) against the candidate you wish to vote for. Do not write anything else on the ballot paper or your vote may not be counted.

What facilities are available to help voters with a disability vote at this election?

The following facilities are available at polling stations to assist voters with disabilities:

  • a polling booth with a shelf at a height suitable for people in wheelchairs

  • a polling booth with extra lighting

  • a large print version of the ballot paper

  • a device with Braille (known as a selector device) to help voters mark their ballot paper

  • a telephone service to read out the ballot paper

If you want to use any of these items, please tell the staff at the polling station when they give you your ballot paper.

If you cannot mark the ballot paper yourself due to a disability, you can have it marked for you by a companion or by the person in charge of the polling station (the Presiding Officer).

You will need to tell the polling station staff that this is how you want to vote and why. If your companion is voting for you they will be asked to fill in a form. Your ballot paper will be marked and placed in the ballot box on your behalf.

Can I take photos inside the polling station?

You can take pictures outside the polling station but you must not take pictures inside the polling station - if you inadvertently disclose how someone has voted you would be breaking the law.

When will the count be held and the results published?

The count will begin as soon as possible after the close of poll and will continue overnight until the results are declared.

The results will be published on the Electoral Office website and Twitter.

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