Saturday 20 April 2019

Lowest ever turnout in Presidential Election

Ballot papers
Ballot papers

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

Michael D Higgins had a landslide victory in the 2018 Presidential Election, but fewer voters than ever turned out to vote.

Overall, 1,492,338 people (43.87pc) of the electorate turned up to the ballot box today making it the lowest ever for a presidential vote.

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Below is a list of the voter turnout in all previous presidential elections:

2011

In 2011, 56pc of eligible voters turned up with 56.8pc voting Michael D. Higgins in for his first term, ahead of fellow returning candidate Seán Gallagher.

2004

Ready for battle: The candidates in the RTÉ radio centre ahead of the first presidential debate on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin
Ready for battle: The candidates in the RTÉ radio centre ahead of the first presidential debate on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin
Class act: Presidential candidate Seán Gallagher at St Laurence’s Primary School, Co Wicklow, with his wife Trish and their son Bobby (5), and other pupils from Bobby’s class. Photo: Colin Keegan
Presidential candidate Gavin Duffy buys his wife Orlaith a rose (Niall Carson/PA)
Structures need to be put in place: Sinn Féin’s presidential candidate Liadh Ní Riada
Planning ahead: President Michael D Higgins consults a member of his staff at his campaign office in Dublin as he prepares his bid for a further seven years in Aras an Uachtarain. Photo: David Conachy
Gavin Duffy and Joan Freeman at Meath County Council Offices. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar canvassing for Michael D Higgins on Grafton Street (Photo: Kyran O'Brien)
Protest: Members of the Travelling community protest against Peter Casey at Carbragh Bridge. Photo: PA
Mr Casey visited a housing development intended for the Traveller community on Thursday (Brian Lawless/PA)
Controversial Presidential campaign Peter Casey has paid a visit to the houses built for Traveller families in Tipperary (Photo: Mark Condren)
Line up: The Presidential candidates with Pat Kenny (centre) for the TV debate on Wednesday. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Sinn Féin’s Presidential candidate Liadh Ní Riada with party leader Mary-Lou McDonald. Picture: Steve Humphreys
The ballot box is taken to Tory Island, off the coast of Co Donegal (Niall Carson/PA)
26/10/2018, Sal Healy with her dog Roxy walks past Drumcondra National School after voting in the presidential election. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Handout photo taken with permission from the Twitter feed of @Yokeups of her dog Buffy waiting outside a polling station in Ireland, as the country goes to the polls to vote in the Irish presidential election. Siobhan Quill/PA Wire
President Michael D Higgins casts his vote with his wife Sabina for the Presidential Election at St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park this morning. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/10/2018
26/10/2018, Sean Gallagher casts his vote in the presidential election with his wife Trish and son, bobby, 5, at the Charlesland sports and recreation centre in Greystones. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Gavin Duffy and his wife Orlaith Carmody casting their vote at Whitecross National School in Julianstown, Co Meath. Picture: Mark Condren
President Michael D Higgins leaves the polling station with his wife Sabina after voting in the Presidential Election at St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park this morning. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/10/2018
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks with presidential candidate Peter Casey at Dublin Castle. Picture: Damien Eagers
Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina arrive at Dublin Castle to attend the count in Ireland's presidential election. Niall Carson/PA Wire
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina outside Aras an Uachtarain yesterday. Photo: David Conachy

In 2004, then incumbent president, Mary McAleese, who had nominated herself in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, was the only candidate nominated. Accordingly, she was re-elected for a second seven-year term of office without the need to hold an election.

1997

The current lowest percentage turnout of Irish voters for a presidential election was in 1997 when Mary McAleese became the 8th President of Ireland with only 47.6pc of the electorate turning up to cast their vote. Mrs McAleese enjoyed 55.6pc of the vote as she defeated Mary Banotti as her closest rival.

1990

Counting of votes begins in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Counting of votes begins in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Ireland’s system of voting, proportional representation by the single transferable vote (PR-STV) came into play in 1990, when the elected president was again fortunate to come out on top of a narrow vote. Mary Robinson became Ireland’s first-ever female president after Brian Lenihan received the most first preference votes from the 64.1pc turnout but was pipped to the post when Mrs Robinson won on a final count of 51.9pc.

1983

In the Irish presidential election of 1983 outgoing President Patrick Hillery agreed under enormous political pressure to seek a second term. As only Mr Hillery was nominated, he was declared re-elected without the need for a poll.

1976

A general view of count staff in front of ballot boxes, as they wait for the counting of votes will begin in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday at 9am, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire
The boxes are opening in the National Convention Centre(Photo: Mark Condren)
Sinn Féin Deputy David Cullinane and Fianna Fail party member Seán Dower at the count in Waterford (Photo Ciaran Murphy)
Tally papers in North Tipperary
Returning officer for the Laois and parts of South Kildare constituency Paul Featherstonehaugh officially commenced the counting of the presidential ballot papers promptly at 9am. (Photo: Stan Henderson)
A general view of count staff in front of ballot boxes, as they wait for the counting of votes will begin in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday at 9am, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Counting of votes begins in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Ballot papers during the Presidential Election 2018
Counting of votes begins in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Counting of votes begins in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Peter Casey pictured at the Convention Centre (Photo: Mark Condren)
Presidential Candidate Peter Casey at the count centre for the Presidential Election in the Convention Centre, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Presidential Candidate Peter Casey at the count centre for the Presidential Election in the Convention Centre, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

The Irish presidential election of 1976 was precipitated by the resignation of President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh in October 1976. Patrick Hillery was elected unopposed as the sixth president of Ireland.

1974

The Irish presidential election of 1974 resulted from the sudden death in office of President Erskine H. Childers. Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh was elected unopposed as the fifth president of Ireland.

1973

Fianna Fáil politicians have a strong history in presidential elections with large turnouts. A fellow party member of de Valera, Erskine H. Childers was also successful in 1973 when 62.2pc of the electorate turned up to vote. It was he who ended Tom O'Higgins second successive unsuccessful campaign as he scooped up 52pc of the vote.     

President Michael D Higgins votes with his wife Sabina at St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park. PHOTO: TONY GAVIN
President Michael D Higgins votes with his wife Sabina at St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park. PHOTO: TONY GAVIN

1966

A record percentage of 65.3pc of voters turned out for the presidential election in 1966. Incumbent president Éamon de Valera, standing for Fianna Fáil was narrowly re-elected, with Fine Gael candidate Tom O'Higgins coming within 1pc (or 10,718 votes) of defeating de Valera.

1959

In 1959, Éamon de Valera received 56.3pc of the votes to beat Seán Mac Eoin who failed for the second election in a row to secure the presidential office. Some 58.37pc of the electorate voted.

1945

An electorate turnout of 63pc, just under that of the record setting 1966, was present to vote in our first-ever presidential election in 1945. Seán T. O'Kelly benefited from the turnout when 55.5pc of voters chose him as Ireland’s first elected president, defeating Seán Mac Eoin.

1938

The Irish presidential election of 1938 was the first Irish presidential election, held to fill the new office of President of Ireland. Douglas Hyde was the only candidate nominated and became the first president of Ireland.

Blasphemy referendum

The blasphemy referendum is likely to see a very similar turnout to the presidential election however it is unlikely that it will reach the lows of previous referenda.

Six previous referenda had lower turnouts than 40pc - the lowest in 1979 when just 28.6pc voted on adoption and university representation in the Seanad.

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