THE result of the Seanad referendum is on a knife edge, an Independent.ie exit poll of a small sample of voters indicates.
Polling has now closed in the two referendums on the abolition of the Seanad and the establishment of the Court of Appeal.
But the turnout is expected to only be around 35pc - and possibly less than the dismal 33pc turnout in last year's Children's Rights referendum.
The prospect of a shock defeat is certainly on the cards as a low turnout is regarded as a bad outcome for the Government’s proposal to abolish the Seanad.
And voting was also marred by confusion over the ballot papers and the meaning of the Yes and No votes.
Counting of votes in the referendums on the Seanad and the Court of Appeal will begin this morning at 9am.
The results of the two referendums are expected to be announced in the central count centre in Dublin Castle in the afternoon.
Although based on a small number of voters in a specific area, the exit poll for Independent.ie indicates the margin will be far closer than opinion polls indicates and the result is too close to call.
The exit poll of just 100 voters showed the Yes and No vote neck-and-neck.
The poll was taken at four polling stations in County Laois today, immediately after voters had cast their ballots.
The tally for the day, from the unscientific sample, worked out at 53pc Yes to 47pc No – making the outcome far from clear cut.
The exit poll revealed a pattern of a far stronger No vote than predicted by the opinion polls.
Among the reasons cited for voting Yes were:
* “It’s about time they cut back too.”
* “It’s elected by one per cent of the population and it’s a breeding ground for Fianna Fail.”
* “It doesn’t reflect us.”
* “Save money.”
* “It’s not serving it’s purpose.”
Among the reasons cited for voting No were:
* “The Government is trying to railroad it.”
* “Reform is the way to go.”
* “The Taoiseach did not come out and debate. The saving of €20m doesn’t add up and I don’t trust the Government.”
* “It’s half thought out and anti-democratic. The Dail is the problem and I don’t believe in centralisation of power.”
* “I just don’t trust the Government.”
As polling stations closed at 10pm - with counting due to start tomorrow morning - the percentage of those casting their ballots was estimated to be below 40%.
Despite afternoon reports that turnout was failing to creep above 10% in some parts, more activity in the evening saw many areas climbing above 30%.
Results in the referendum are expected by around mid-afternoon tomorrow.
Join Jason O'Brien from 9am tomorrow for our live blog on all the breaking news and results from the counts of today's two referendums.