No, Ireland does not allow 'anyone' to vote in its elections

By: Matthew Ross
September 5 2023

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No, Ireland does not allow 'anyone' to vote in its elections


The Verdict Misleading

Non-EU citizens resident in Ireland can vote in local elections for city or county council only.

Claim ID 68bb4f20

Additional reporting by Nikolaj Kristensen


A misleading narrative has emerged on social media that foreigners can vote in Irish elections. Malaysian right-wing X (formerly known as Twitter) personality Ian Miles Cheong posted, “You don’t need to be Irish to vote in Ireland. Anyone can literally travel there, and claim to be an asylum seeker, to cast a vote. That’s hilarious,” receiving over 400,000 views. In a video for Gript Media, right-wing Irish commentator Ben Scallan characterizes this policy as a “self-serving power grab” to import voters sympathetic to the current government.

Ireland has experienced a significant increase in migrants over the past few years, including many Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion. A recent news story from the Irish Times reported that the Department of Housing and Local Government has published a guide in Ukrainian to help the estimated 55,500 among the Ukrainian refugee population in Ireland who are eligible to vote to register.

In fact

It is highly misleading to claim that anyone coming to Ireland can vote in elections because there are several types of elections in Ireland. Which electoral events a person can vote in is determined by citizenship, with non-Irish, non-British, non-EU citizens only able to vote in local elections. Local elections in Ireland elect city and county councils. This is in keeping with many countries that allow some degree of “non-citizen suffrage,” usually at the local government level.

On the other hand, Irish citizens have comprehensive voting rights at the local, national, and European levels, being able to vote in presidential, Dáil (lower house of the Oireachtas, or parliament), European, and local elections, as well as national referenda. Some Irish citizens can also vote for members of the Seanad, the upper house of the Oireachtas. U.K. citizens in Ireland can vote in Dáil and local elections, while a dual national U.K./EU citizen can also vote in European elections. EU/EEA citizens can vote in European and local elections. 

Eligibility to vote in Irish local elections is determined by age and residence, a spokesperson for Ireland’s Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage told Logically Facts. 

“A person, irrespective of citizenship, needs to be 18 years of age or over and resident in a local electoral area in order to be eligible to be included on the register of electors. No minimum period of time is specified in terms of residency,” the spokesperson said. 

The Electoral Act of 1992, amended in 2022, provides this eligibility criteria. The right to vote for any person whose name is on the register of local government electors is set out in section 24 of the Local Government Act 2001.

Electors can be asked to produce specified identification at polling stations when they receive their ballot papers. As this requirement could pose an issue for refugees and asylum seekers who may not hold the specified documents, regulations were introduced in 2004 to broaden the list of acceptable identification to include a Temporary Residence Certificate card and a Garda National Immigration Bureau card.

The verdict

Without context, statements such as Cheong’s make Ireland’s laws around non-EU citizen voting appear comprehensive, suggesting that they have disproportionate sway over the country’s entire government. The reality is that non-EU residents of Ireland can only vote in local elections, and have no say in any other kinds of national elections and referenda. Therefore, we have marked this claim as misleading. 

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