Monday 19 March 2018

Referendums: Voter turnout low so far

Some rural stations at less than 5pc

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

TURNOUT for the Seanad and Court of Appeal referendums is reported to be low so far.

It is the fourth time that the 3.1 million voters here have been asked to go to the polls to alter the Constitution, since the Government came into office two-and-a-half years ago.

This time, voters are being asked to decide on whether to abolish the Seanad and whether to set up a new Court of Appeal to tackle the backlog of cases in the Supreme Court.

. The turnout in Dublin city was just 3.65pc by mid-morning but officials said that voting was expected to pick up by lunchtime.  One of the morning voters was RTE presenter Kathryn Thomas, who said she got in early to her local polling station in Dublin.

In Dublin county, the turnout in the morning was around 4pc, although this has increased to 9pc in some polling stations.

In Donegal, the turnout in the north east of the county was 6pc in the morning and 5pc in the south west of the county.

But with polling stations opening nationwide at 7am, some stations in Cavan-Monaghan reported that no voters had turned up at all for the first hour-and-half.

The Government will be hoping for a larger turnout than in last year’s children’s rights referendum, when the turnout was just 33pc. That was down on the fiscal treaty referendum in April last year, where the turnout was 50pc.

In the southwest turnouts are reported as low as 1pc at some polling stations during the course of the morning.

In both Kerry constituencies, turnout has been described as “extremely low” so far - while the story wasn’t much different in Limerick.

One rural polling station outside Tralee recorded less than 4.5pc turnout while in the Tralee urban area the situation was better with 9pc turnout recorded at some stations so far, while in Listowel voter turnout was just under 10pc at lunchtime.

However, in rural polling stations in the Listowel area, turnout is estimated at around 7pc.

Meanwhile, on the Limerick side of the constituency, Glin in West Limerick has had a 9pc turnout this morning.

In Limerick city, turnout has also been low, not exceeding 10pc at any station.

It is also slow across the south and south-east.

Some voting stations reported turnout single in single digit figures as late as 11am in Mayfield, Knocknaheeny and Blackpool on Cork’s northside.

Voting was marginally stronger in some rural parts of Cork though returning officers admitted that turnout is still likely to be between 18pc and 25pc by lunchtime.

“It has been very slow but that has been the trend with referenda over recent years,” one officer in Mallow said.

Waterford city mirrored Cork in terms of a slow turnout with officers admitting that the traditional 6pm-8pm voter rush will again be crucial.

Some ballot stations in west Waterford reported amongst the lowest morning voter turnouts ever experienced.

In Kilkenny, rural voting stations reported reasonable early morning balloting before a significant slowdown.

Officers stressed that the traditional evening rush to vote will be crucial.

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