Confused as to why there's a bible at your polling station? Here's why that is

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
Many people were left a little indignant at seeing bibles placed at polling stations
Many people were left a little indignant at seeing bibles placed at polling stations

Many people have been left bewildered and a little indignant after seeing bibles at polling stations around the country.

Some people were left confused as seeing New Testaments placed at polling stations when casting their votes in the marriage referendum.

There is, however, a relatively valid reason for this. 

The bible is used in cases where a voter does not have identification and instead swears an oath that they are who they say they are.

A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said it is a “legal requirement” for a bible to be present in all polling stations, and indeed is standard practice for every referendum and election.

The provision is contained in Section 111 of the Electoral Act 1992. It says that anyone whose name is on the register of electors is entitled to vote, but that the returning or presiding officer who oversees the ballot is entitled to ask for proof of identity before - but not after - a ballot paper is handed over. 

They can also be asked to swear an oath to that effect, using the aforementioned bible for those of a religious persuasion, or make a declaration.

It states: "The returning officer or presiding officer may, and if so required by a personation agent present in the polling station shall, administer to any person when he applies for a ballot paper, but not afterwards, an oath or (in the case of any person who objects to taking an oath on the ground that he has no religious belief or that the taking of an oath is contrary to his religious belief) an affirmation in the following form:

"“I swear by Almighty God (or, ‘I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm) that I am the same person as the person whose name appears as AB (given name) on the register of electors now in force for the constituency of…..and that I have not already voted at this election, and that had attained the age of 18 years on….."
And if such person refuses to take the oath or make the affirmation he shall not be permitted to vote.