Turnout for children's referendum poll among lowest
Voting in the children’s rights referendum has drawn to a close, with just under a third of voters turning out to cast their ballot.
The proposed constitutional amendment looks at a number of areas of children’s rights including adoption, protection, State intervention in neglect cases and giving children a say in their own protection proceedings.
After polls closed at 10 pm tonight Government sources estimated that the turnout would be around 32 per cent.
There have been 36 referendums in the State’s history on issues ranging from abortion to bail, citizenship to the voting system. The record low turnout was in June 1979 when just 28.6 per cent voted in the referendums to change the adoption laws and the franchise for the Seanad university seats. The turnout in the Fiscal treaty referendum last May was 50 per cent.
More than 3.1 million people were eligible to vote today, but the low-key campaign may have failed to capture the public imagination.
Earlier today, some areas in Co Sligo reported turnout of as low as 3 per cent by noon, while in parts of Co Longford, it was only at 2 per cent. According to RTE News, parts of Dublin South West were only slightly higher at 3 per cent and 4 per cent.
Some areas of south Dublin were also hit by a power outage.
At 9.00am, the ballot boxes will be opened and the contents verified by comparing the number of ballot papers for the poll found in each box with the relevant account for the poll furnished by the presiding officer. Local returning officers will then begin to count the votes.
At the completion of the count, each local returning officer will inform the referendum returning officer, who will be based in Dublin Castle, of details for their constituency. The details include total electorate; total poll; number of invalid ballot papers; total valid poll; votes cast in favour of the proposal and votes cast against the proposal.
The referendum returning officer will aggregate the constituency results, and declare the result for the referendum. The results for each constituency will be available on the website: www.referendum.ie.
The first indications of the outcome should be known before lunchtime, unless the vote is split by a narrow margin.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar joined Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald yesterday in confirming that advice from the office of the Attorney General Máire Whelan had informed the content of booklets deemed flawed by the Supreme Court after they had been distributed to households across the State.
Mr Varadkar, Fine Gael’s director of elections for the referendum, appealed to voters not to use the referendum to punish the Government. “I really just hope that people going out to vote don’t use the fact that the Government made some mistakes here as a reason to vote No,” he said.
Yesterday, the Government was forced to take down its referendum website for a second time after the legal team behind the successful challenge in the Supreme Court warned it would apply to the court again to have it shut down.
The campaign website, childrensreferendum.ie, was removed on Thursday but a truncated version was later published. Lawyers representing Dublin engineer Mark McCrystal, who took the challenge, wrote to the Government demanding it be shut down.