TDs line up ‘tally people’ to scrutinise voting trends

No advocate Mattie McGrath (Ind) says there will be a full election-style tally on Saturday

 Ballot paper being counted for  the 2012 Fiscal Stability Treaty referendum. Photograph: David Sleator

Ballot paper being counted for the 2012 Fiscal Stability Treaty referendum. Photograph: David Sleator


Mid-morning tallies on Saturday will give voters the first indication of the result of the abortion referendum.

All constituencies will have a tally count, some more detailed than others. While there are no Dáil seats at stake, TDs will want to know how the various areas in their constituencies are voting.

It will be useful information when the next general election comes around, although politicians on both sides of the referendum feel the election campaign will be dominated by the economy, health and housing.

The so-called tallyman, a term used in a less politically correct era, was always invaluable at an election or referendum count.

He or she closely monitored the counting of the votes and took careful notes of figures and trends, with the more professional operators capable of predicting the outcome in advance of the returning officer.

While those practised operators of the skill have diminished in number, the current army of tally people remain an important part of the count process.

Saturday’s tally will be easily done, given that it is simply a matter of Yes or No on the ballot paper, and there are no candidates, counts and transfers, as in the case of an election.

Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath, who has strongly advocated a No vote, said there will be a full election-style tally at the count.

This will involve members of his own organisation, other political parties and anti-abortion campaigners.

“We expect to come up with an accurate prediction at the end of the tally,’’ he said.

There will also be a full tally in the Wexford constituency of Labour leader Brendan Howlin.

Mr Howlin said this would involve the political parties pooling their resources.

“We will be able to identify the trends at the end of it all,’’ he said.

Minister of State and Independent TD John Halligan said the tally in his Waterford constituency might not be as detailed as in a general election, but it will give pointers to the eventual result.

Labour senator Kevin Humphreys will use what is for him a tried and trusted formula when he compiles his own tally in his Dublin Rathdown constituency.

He will monitor the counting of votes from five boxes, representative of the constituency, and base his prediction on that.

“It has never failed me over the past 10 years,’’ he said.

“I was even able to predict the loss of my Dáil seat in the 2016 general election.’’

Fine Gael senator Paul Coghlan said there will be a tally in the Kerry constituency, although more informal than in a general election.

But it will not be a priority for his constituency colleague, Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae.

“I will attend the count after I have completed my usual Saturday constituency clinics,’’ he said.