Vote 2019: What did we vote on and when will we get the results?
Keep up to speed with our ultimate guide to the European, local and referendum votes
The ballot boxes will be opened at 9am on Saturday but results of the local and European elections may not be known until early next week. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.
Friday’s elections combine the micro (locals) and the macro (Euros), a constitutional referendum and three local plebiscites in the cities of Cork, Waterford and Limerick.
Voters have selected representatives for the assemblies closest to them, and for those farthest away, as well as answering questions about national policy and local government. If nothing else it is an exercise in democratic variety.
At this stage you might still be scratching your head a little and wondering what it’s all about. But don’t worry we have it all covered here.
First, the locals
There are 31 local authorities, with a total of 949 seats. A total of 1,977 candidates are running for election. You’ll find full coverage of the local elections here. Each local authority area is divided into a number of Local Electoral Areas depending on the size and population.
Carlow has three; Dublin City Council has 11. They range in size from seven seats to three, and the number of candidates for each LEA varies widely. Councillors have a variety of decision-making functions, though some powers are retained by council officials and others by central Government. Local government is Ireland is weak by comparison with most European countries.
How can I find out who ran in my area?
You’ll find a list of every candidate in The Irish Times Vote 2019 site for the local elections. Go to this page and select your area to see a list of who’s running. This is also where our live results will be updated over the weekend.
Grand, so tell me about the European elections
The elections to the European Parliament take place all over the European Union over four days beginning on Thursday and ending on Sunday evening. You’ll find full coverage of the European elections here.
Voting takes place on Thursday, May 23rd in the Netherlands and the UK, Friday, May 24th in Ireland, Saturday, May 25th in Latvia, Malta , Slovenia and on Sunday May 26th in the 22 other countries of the European Union.
Under a variety of national systems, voters will choose the 751 members of the next European Parliament, which will sit in the twin seats of Brussels and Strasbourg for the next five years. Although it is seen by many voters as remote, the European Parliament has a strong role in the production of European legislation which - only in areas where the member states have agreed through the treaties - takes precedence over Irish law. The Parliament must also approve the EU budget and the appointment of European Commissioners, who head up the EU’s civil service based in Brussels, and it usually flexes its muscles on both of these issues.
How many Irish MEPs are there?
That’s not as straightforward a question as it sounds. There are eleven outgoing MEPs, but on Friday, because of Brexit, an additional two will be elected. However, because British MEPs must sit in the Parliament until the UK actually leaves, two of the MEPs - the final candidate elected in both Dublin and the Ireland South constituencies - must wait to take their seats until Brexit actually happens. They could be in for a long or a short wait. The Republic is divided into three constituencies - Dublin (four seats), Ireland South (five seats) and Midlands North West (four seats), while Northern Ireland is a separate three-seater constituency. Of course theymay never get to take up their seats if the UK leaves the European Union before the first sitting of the European Parliament in July.
How can I find out who ran in my European constituency?
We are glad you asked. Over the last few weeks The Irish Times politics HQ has been busy finding out all there is to know about the European vote. Lists of candidates and constituency profiles are available here: Dublin, Ireland South, Midlands North West, Northern Ireland.
And if you still need a hand, a number of online tools have been put together by academics that allow voters to gauge how their views align to those of MEP hopefuls. Harry has the details here.
What about this divorce referendum?
The referendum proposes two changes to the restrictions on divorce which are currently written into the constitution. Firstly, if passed, it will abolish the requirement for a couple to live apart for four of the previous five years if applying for a divorce.
The Government, with the agreement of the main opposition parties, has said it will introduce legislation which requires a couple to be living apart for two years, effectively halving the time necessary to qualify for a divorce. Currently, the four-year period is written into the constitution, and can therefore only be changed by a people in a referendum. The second change is to make it easier for foreign divorces to the recognised.
Although there are two changes proposed, voters will only be asked one question - Yes or No to the two changes.
What are the plebiscites about?
Voters in Cork, Waterford and Limerick will be asked if they want to change the way local government is organised in their areas to introduce directly-elected mayors with some executive powers. So they won’t be voting for mayoral candidates, rather they will be voting on if they want to vote for mayoral candidates. Geddit? You’ll find full coverage of the divorce referendum and plebiscites here. OK, let’s keep going....
Don’t they already have mayors?
Yes. But they are councillors elected by the other councillors for a one-year term and the role is largely ceremonial. What is proposed is instead US-style mayors, directly elected by the voters, with executive powers, including many of the powers now held by the city or county managers, the powerful officials who head the permanent local government apparatus.
So what powers will the new mayors have if the proposal is approved?
If voters give it the go-ahead, that will require further legislation. So it’s not going to be done anytime soon.
When will we get the actual results?
The ballot boxes were opened at 9am on Saturday at count centres all over Ireland, but the first job will be to segregate and verify the papers. Once segregation is completed, the local election, referendum and plebiscite papers can be counted, though local election papers may be brought to a separate location for counting.
European ballots will be brought to the three count centres for those elections, and counting will only commence on Sunday morning at 9am, though no results will be announced until polls have closed all over Europe at 10pm that evening.
The bulk of results from Ireland’s three European constituencies will become available on Monday. Northern Ireland doesn’t count on Sundays, a measure known as Sunday observance, so the result there may be further delayed.
So you’ll begin hearing the very first referendum results late on Saturday with a full result very late Saturday night or in the early hours of Sunday.
Local election results from individual constituencies will start coming on Saturday afternoon but the bulk will become known on Sunday. The count processes for this is slow and final results won’t be confirmed until early the following week, and perhaps into Tuesday or even Wednesday for some local authorities. Depending on the progress of counting, plebiscites may not be counted until Monday, but we can't say for sure.
Also, don’t hold us to any of this. The pace of the count can be impacted by the work-rate of the constituency staff, voter turnout or by the whims of individual returning officers.
What we can promise you is that we will keep fully on top of it all here on irishtimes.com all weekend.