Voting in Portuguese elections

Information updated on January 13, 2022

Find out where to vote in this page at ePortugal.

In Portugal, people over 18 years vote in the following elections:

  • President of the Portuguese Republic (every 5 years)
  • Parliamentary (every 4 years)
  • Regional parliamentary (every 4 years) 
    • Regional Government of the Azores
    • Regional Government of Madeira
  • Municipal (every 4 years)
  • European (every 5 years)

And also whenever they are called upon to give an opinion on important issues for life in society, through:

  • National Referendum
  • Local Referendum

To learn more, consult the Voter’sPortal page on elections and referendums.

Voter registry

Enrolment in the Electoral Register is automatic. 
From the age of 18, any national can exercise his/her right to vote.

  • Voter number
The voter number has been eliminated. Therefore, in order to exercise your right to vote, you only need to appear at the polling station accompanied by your identification document/Citizen Card.

Voting location

Enrolment in the Electoral Register is carried out according to the address indicated on the Citizen Card, both for nationals residing in national territory and for nationals residing abroad. It is therefore important that you keep your address updated on your Citizen Card.

In case you have changed residence, if you have not changed the address on your Citizen Card, your voting location will remain associated with the previous address. You must, however, carry out and confirm the change of address on the Citizen Card before the 60-day period prior to any election in order for the new voting location to take effect.

To learn more about the change of address on your Citizen Card, you can go to https://eportugal.gov.pt/servicos/alterar-a-morada-do-cartao-de-cidadao.

You can find out where your voting location is

It is only possible to know the place of voting in the 15 days before each election or referendum. Outside this period, you can only check in which parish council you are registered.

  • Through an SMS:
  1. write the following message: RE <space> Civil identification number <space> date of birth in YYYYMMDD format (example: RE 12345678 19531007)
  2. and send it to 3838 (free service).
  • Face to face, in a parish council or town hall.

How to vote?

  1. On the election or referendum scheduled day, go to your voting location and present your identification document at the polling station.
  2. The ballot paper is delivered by the president of the polling station. In municipal elections, 3 ballot papers are delivered.
  3. Go to the polling station and put a cross (X) on the square in front of the list or the candidate for whom you wish to vote. In case of a referendum, you must put a cross (X) in the option "YES" or in the option "NO". If you damage the ballot paper, return it to the polling station’s president and ask for a new one.
  4. Fold the ballot paper in 4 with the printed part facing inwards.
  5. Return to the polling station and give the ballot paper to the president, who will insert it into the ballot box. In municipal elections, the ballot papers are introduced into the ballot box by the voter.

Voters who are notoriously ill or physically handicapped and whom the bureau finds unable to vote alone may be accompanied by another voter of their choice. If the bureau has doubts about the notoriety of the illness or physical disability, it may require a certificate proving the impossibility of voting alone, issued by a doctor who exercises health authority powers in the area of the municipality. For this purpose, health centres are open on election days.

The persons responsible for the companies or services that are active on election day must make it easier for the workers to leave the service for long enough to exercise this right.

Ballot paper

The ballot paper contains the names, acronyms and symbols of all competing parties and coalitions. The order in which they appear on the ballot paper is the result of the drawings carried out by the courts provided for in the Law.

Example of a ballot paper for the election of the Assembly of the Republic:

Voting ballot with the various competing parties and coalitions

The vote is considered null in the following situations:

  • when more than one square is ticked or when there is doubt as to which square is ticked
  • when the square of a list which has withdrawn from the elections or which has not been admitted is ticked
  • when the ballot paper has been cut, drawn on, erased or any word has been written
  • in cases of early voting, when the ballot paper does not reach the polling station in the legally prescribed conditions or is received in an envelope that is not duly closed.

The ballot paper that does not have any type of trademark is considered a blank vote.

Blank votes, as well as null votes, which are not validly cast, shall not influence the calculation of the number of votes obtained by each candidacy and their conversion into mandates.

Even if the number of blank or null votes is in the majority, the election shall be valid and the mandates shall be established taking into account the votes validly cast in the candidacies.

Early voting

Citizens who are prevented from going to the polling station on election day may vote early.

Early voting covers the following situations:

  • hospitalized patients
  • prisoners not deprived of political rigths
  • citizens in mobility
  • citizens abroad.

The request is made through the Early Voting platform.

For more information, consult the early voting page on the Voter's Portal.