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Ballot Paper Template for Voters who are blind or vision impaired

Bye-Elections 2019

Voters who are blind and vision impaired will have the option at the forthcoming Bye-elections in Cork North-Central, Dublin Fingal, Dublin Mid-West and Wexford of voting independently by using a Ballot Paper Template (BPT), which will enable them to mark their ballot papers without assistance if they wish to do so.

Ballot Paper Template (BPT)

A BPT is a transparent plastic device that is placed on top of a ballot paper and which has a number of tactile features to facilitate the independent marking of a ballot paper by a voter who is blind or vision impaired. The template consists of raised numbering and corresponding braille to assist the voter in identifying the openings on the template that correspond to the voter preference boxes for the candidates on the ballot paper which lies beneath.

Freephone - 1800 number

The BPT works in conjunction with a ‘Freephone – 1800’ number that informs the listener of the candidates corresponding to the numbers on the BPT. Based on this  interaction between the tactile features of the BPT and the information provided on the Freephone number, the voter can then mark the ballot paper with their voting preferences (1,2,3 etc.). The BPT also has a flap corresponding to each voting choice that can be securely closed once a voting preference has been completed. Once the voter has completed the process, the ballot paper is detached from the template and placed in the ballot box in the usual way.

The Freephone number will be available for voters intending to use the template as soon as possible following the  period for the receipt of nominations to stand for elections up to and including polling day. Therefore, they can listen to the candidate line-up from the comfort of their homes as often as they wish in advance of polling day and, if they wish, can again listen to it on their mobile phones at the polling station if they wish to do so.  Voters should refer to the relevant website of their returning officer (listed below) or make direct contact to ascertain the ‘freephone’ numbers that apply in their areas.

Dáil Bye-Election Constituencies Freephone 1800 number:

  • Cork North-Central  – 1800 300 444
  • Dublin Fingal – 1800 320 176
  • Dublin Mid-West – 1800 333 343
  • Wexford – 1800 273 060

Notice of Poll or Candidate Details

Another option open to voters with the relevant screen reading technology (eg on their phones, tablets or laptops) is to familiarise themselves with the candidates standing in their constituency area by accessing the relevant ‘Notice of Poll’ or ‘candidate details’ section on the relevant website. A Notice of Poll is a statutory notice published by a returning officer which sets out details of the poll, including a listing of the candidates in the order in which they will appear on the ballot paper. The relevant websites are provided below – the Notice of Poll in each case can be noted there.

BPTs will be available at each polling station on polling day. If a voter who is blind or vision impaired indicates to the Presiding Officer that they wish to avail of the BPT option, they will be handed their ballot papers with the appropriate BPT attached. However, the option of voting with the aid of a companion or the Presiding Officer at a polling station will continue to be available for those voters who are blind and vision impaired that would prefer to continue voting in this way.

Voters intending to use the template may also wish to refer to the website of the National Council for the Blind of Ireland  where further details can be obtained about the use of the templates.