independent

Friday 16 November 2018

No surprises in counts with two foregone conclusions

Presidential election and referendum on blasphemy

There were no surprises in either the presidential election nor the blasphemy referendum last Saturday.

The results indicated by Friday's exit polls had Michael D Higgins winning, and the blasphemy referendum passing, by such large margins that very little turned on the count.

Tallies got under way as soon as the counting started for the presidential election, and within a short time it was apparent that the polls were correct.

A cross-party team formed a group to tally the votes, just not for the referendum. It appeared that nobody was interested, particularly in such a foregone conclusion.

The referendum section of last week's democratic process may as well not have been happening. Nobody was talking about it, either in the centre or on air.

Staff began sorting the yes and no votes after the announcement of the Wicklow presidential vote, and the subsequent decision that there would be no second count. It was mathematically impossible for that to make a material decision to any of the candidates.

It was quickly visually evident that the 'yes' piles were at least twice as high as those for 'no'.

To the rear of the room, voting cards for the presidential candidates were piled on tables. Most of them shared a surface, but Michael D Higgins' votes took up an entire table.

By the time counting started for the referendum, there was nobody in the centre bar counting staff and press. The morning had seen Minister Harris, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, Labour's Jack O'Connor, and campaigners visit to check the tally and go off again. Local candidate Sean Gallagher skipped the Wicklow Count Centre and went directly to Dublin Castle.

The total electorate in Wicklow is 99,871. Just over half of those actually voted, with the total poll 50,619. After spoiled votes, the valid poll was 50,101.

35,029 voted 'yes', to repeal the blasphemy section of the constitution. 15,072 people voted 'no'.

Bray People

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