Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2016: Everything you need to know - when do polling stations open? Where do I go? What do I need to bring?

By Jonny Bell

Two-hundred-and-seventy-six candidates are battling it out for 108 seats across 18 constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections.

Here is everything you need to know for polling day on Thursday:

When do polling stations open?

Stations open across Northern Ireland on Thursday, May 5 at 7am and close at 10pm.

There are 619 stations and 1,380 boxes in total.

Who can vote?

Anyone on the electoral register, is over 18 on the day and is a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen.

Where do I go?

Your polling station will be named on the polling card, which you should have received by now. If you are not sure, or didn't get a polling card you can check the location with the Electoral Office. You don't need a polling card to vote, it is just for information purposes.

What Identification do I need?

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

UK, Irish or EU passport

Electoral Identity Card

Translink Senior SmartPass

Translink 60+ SmartPass

Translink War Disabled SmartPass

Translink Blind Person’s SmartPass

Identity documents produced at a polling station are no longer required 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.

How do I vote?

The system used to elect members of the Assembly is by single transferable vote. This means you vote in order of preference. So decide who your number one is and then 2,3,4,5 and so on. You can continue on for as long as you like along the ballot paper and you don't have to put a number by each candidate. A pencil will be provided - this is because a pen could tear the ballot paper. Although you can use your own stationery.

Who do I vote for?

That's for you to decide - and remember you can't discuss who you might vote for, or the merits of each candidate in the polling station. Check out our gallery (above) of all 276 candidates to refresh your memory.

What's at stake?

The next five years of how Northern Ireland will be governed will be determined by this election. Given the push for further devolution of powers - such as corporation tax - the new batch of MLAs will be more powerful than ever before.

Outgoing MLAs by party: DUP 38, Sinn Fein 29, SDLP 14, UUP 13, Alliance 8, TUV 1, Green 1, UKIP 1, NI21 1, Independent 2.

What if I make a mistake voting?

As some constituencies have 18 candidates, you may find yourself making someone higher or lower up the paper than you intend to. This is not a problem as you can request a new ballot paper right up until the point you put it in the box - that is the point of no return.

Can I tweet or take a selfie from inside the polling station?

The Electoral Commission warns against tweeting inside the polling station, even if it's about your own vote. Also it's best not to take any photographs. The ballot is intended to be secret and you could run the risk of inadvertently revealing who someone else may have voted for. Wait until you get outside.

A good idea is to get the turnout for you polling station though and tweet it - when you get outside - using #ae16.

When will I know the results?

The counting process begins at 8am on Friday. Given the system, it takes time to get everyone elected so results are expected to filter in throughout the weekend.

Where can I get the results?

Where else, but right here on the Belfast Telegraph website. We'll have comprehensive coverage throughout the entire process until every MLA is elected. Including analysis and all the political fallout.

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