Northern Ireland council elections: Voters reminded to bring photo ID

Northern Ireland voters will elect 462 councillors across the 11 local councils.

The public has been reminded to bring photographic ID to enable them to vote in Thursday's local government elections in Northern Ireland.

The Electoral Commission has also reminded voters that they should rank candidates in order of preference through the single transferable vote system.

Voters will elect 462 councillors across the 11 local councils in Northern Ireland.

The election is taking place at a time when Northern Ireland is without a power sharing executive at Stormont due to a DUP protest over post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday.

Those attending need to bring a correct form of photographic ID.

If the ID has expired it can still be used it if the photograph still looks like the voter.

Voters will receive one ballot paper to elect councillors.

They should place a '1' beside their first preference, a '2' beside their second preference, and so on. People can vote for as few or as many candidates as they like.

Those who have a postal vote but have not had a chance to return it by polling day can hand it in to the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland before 10pm.

The count will begin at 8am on Friday when ballot boxes are opened at each of the 11 count venues.

Cahir Hughes, head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland, said: "It's important that voters have all the information they need to make sure their voice is heard at the local elections on May 18.

"Remember to bring your ID with you to the polling station and rank the candidates in order of preference on your ballot paper using numbers.

"Staff at the polling station are there to help, so if you have any questions, just ask."

Everything you need to know...

Who is eligible to vote at the Local Council elections?

All persons who are:

  • Listed on the electoral register

  • At least 18 years of age on 18 May 2023

  • British, Irish, European Union 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.

What ID do I need to bring to vote?

There are a number of IDs you can bring with you to vote on May 18.

These are listed below...

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

  • A UK, Irish or EU passport (or Irish Passport Card)

  • An Electoral Identity Card

  • A Translink Half Fare SmartPass

  • A Translink Senior SmartPass 

  • A Translink 60+ SmartPass

  • A Translink War Disabled SmartPass

  • A Translink Blind Person’s 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.

When will the count be held and the results published?

The verification and count of ballot papers will begin at 8am on May 19 with results published on Council websites.

Who is running in each council area?

You can find out who is running in each council area from each of the 11 council's websites.

What are the responsibilities of local councils?

Local councils are responsible for a number of service areas, including:

  • waste collection and disposal

  • recycling and waste management

  • local planning functions

  • civic amenity provision

  • grounds maintenance

  • street cleaning

  • cemeteries

  • public conveniences

  • food safety

  • health and safety

  • environmental protection

  • environmental improvement

  • estates management - building design and maintenance

  • building control-inspection and regulation of new buildings

  • dog control

What happened in the last election?

In 2019, the DUP won 122 seats remaining the largest party overall despite losing eight seats, with Sinn Fein winning 105 seats - a total which was unchanged from the previous election.

The UUP finished third, recording a total of 75 seats with the SDLP picking up 59 - the parties losing 13 and seven seats respectively.

The Alliance Party enjoyed a surge of support in 2019 as they claimed a total of 53 seats, a gain of 21 overall.

Independents won 24, the Green Party 8, TUV 6, PBP 5, PUP 3, Aontu 1 and the Cross-Community Labour Alternative 1.

Every count covered...

Counting starts on Friday May 19 - and UTV will have special programming that afternoon and will have updates throughout online and across our social channels.

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