A number of polling stations around the country may not be wheelchair accessible

And it's up to the voter to find that out

A number of polling stations around the country may not be wheelchair accessible

Photocall file photo

Voting in the general election is underway. Over 550 candidates are contesting 157 Dáil seats.

Over 3.25 million people have the right to vote at polling stations across the country. However, a number of polling stations around the country may not be wheelchair accessible.

Although many of the old buildings around the country may not have ramps or lifts, it is actually up to the voter to let the returning officer know if he/she can't vote in the polling station.

And they had to let the returning officer know a week ago.

This is what the Citizens' Information website declares:

"Whenever possible, polling stations are situated in buildings that are accessible to people with disabilities. Polling stations must be situated on the ground floor in all cases. If it is necessary and feasible, temporary ramps are installed to facilitate access to polling stations.

If you have difficulty gaining access to your local polling station, you can apply in writing to the returning officer - at least a week before polling day - for permission to vote at another polling station in the same constituency. The returning officer is the person responsible for the conduct of the election in your constituency. He or she will give public notice of all the polling stations in his/her constituency that are not accessible to wheelchair users. In Dublin and Cork, the returning officer is the city or county sheriff, in other counties, it is the county registrar.

If you apply to be authorised to vote at another polling station, you should explain why you cannot gain access to your local station. This will help the returning officer select a suitable alternative polling station. If possible, you should suggest a polling station that is both accessible and convenient for you. The returning officer will send you written authorisation enabling you to vote at another polling station in the same constituency, usually the station suggested by you. You should present this authorisation when you go to vote at that station and remember to bring the usual evidence of identity as well. Once you have been assigned to another station to vote, you cannot vote at your local station."

This could mean that if a voter with a disability turns up to a polling station that is not accessible, they may not be able to vote.

Martin Naughton of the Disability Federation of Ireland spoke to Newstalk Lunchtime today about the issue and stated that people have to make arrangements to go to accessible voting booths. He stated that some people may not even consider voting: