Tuesday 23 July 2019

Yes camp confident of win after huge turnout of voters

Sisters Aisling and Niamh McDonagh from Drumcondra after casting their vote.
Sisters Aisling and Niamh McDonagh from Drumcondra after casting their vote.
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Leading Yes campaigners were confident of victory in the Marriage Equality Referendum after voter turnout exceeded expectations.

The Yes camp believed the big turnout - especially among young voters and in urban areas - gave them a good advantage before ballots were counted.

Turnout for the world's first vote on legalising same-sex marriage was expected to reach around 60pc in cities and about 50pc in rural areas.

Traditionally, referendum turnouts are low - such as the Seanad abolition vote, which saw fewer than 40pc of the electorate take to the ballot box.

However, there were reports of queues outside polling stations from 7am yesterday, demonstrating the huge public engagement on the divisive issue.

Thousands of people are expected to gather in Dublin Castle's courtyard where a big screen will be erected for the referendum result to be relayed.

A higher-than-expected youth vote will impact on the final count, as thousands of young people who never voted before got involved. In total, 66,000 people were added to the supplementary register.

Social media campaigns and an unprecedented number of people returning home to Ireland to vote in the referendum means the final decision will be carried by a significant mandate.

Fine Gael director of elections and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said he was taking nothing for granted, but was heartened by the high turnout.

"My sense is that a good urban turnout has to be positive for the Yes side and reports of lots of young people voting is very positive as well. We are not getting carried away but we are very hopeful given the activity we have seen today," Mr Coveney told the Irish Independent.

"I am hoping we get a clear result and we are not scraping over the line but I am not going to be so presumptuous to say it is a success. If this is lost, there will be many thousands of people and families devastated on a personal level."

Senator Rónán Mullen, who advocated for a No vote, said the high turnout was a "real tribute to the public's social concern".

Mr Mullen conceded a strong youth vote is more of an advantage to the Yes side, but dismissed suggestions there was less of a No vote in urban areas.

"There are lots of people in urban areas who have been soul searching in recent weeks and were undecided. This was not necessarily about a liberal conservative divide," he said.

Irish Independent

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