Vote 2019: Ireland heads to the polls for elections and referendum

Polls opened at 7am for local and European elections and divorce referendum

The divorce referendum in 1995 was a divisive affair that brought vocal support from either sides. Video: Reuters

Polling stations around the country opened at 7am on Friday for the local and European elections, the referendum to change the constitution on divorce and, in Cork, Waterford and Limerick, plebiscites on directly-elected mayors for the cities.

More than 6,500 polling stations remain open until 10pm, and the sorting and counting of votes will begin on Saturday at 9am at 29 count centres around the country.

Voting took place on Thursday on some offshore islands. Between 3.3 and 3.4 million people are eligible to vote in the different polls.

Irish citizens are eligible to vote in the European and local elections and the referendum, while all EU citizens – including British citizens – may vote in the European and local elections. Non-EU citizens can vote in the local elections only.


In the mayoral plebiscites, people eligible to vote in the local elections in the areas of Cork City Council, Limerick City and County Council and Waterford City and County Council will be eligible to vote.

In all cases, voters must appear on the register of electors or the supplementary register to be allowed vote. They may be asked for identification at polling stations.

In the European elections, 19 candidates will contest the four seats in the Dublin constituency, 17 the four seats in Midlands North West and 23 candidates will be on the ballot paper in Ireland South.

In the local elections, just under 2,000 candidates will contest 949 seats in the 31 local authorities. Counting of votes will begin when the ballot boxes are open at 9am on Saturday morning, but there will be an RTÉ exit poll after the close of polls on Friday. The results of the poll’s findings will be announced during the Late Late Show after 10pm.

First count

Once the votes are sorted, counting of local elections and referendum votes will begin on Saturday. European election votes will not be counted until Sunday and the results of the first count won’t be announced until the polls close elsewhere in Europe at 10pm that night.

While many local election results will be known by Sunday evening, it will most likely be into the middle of the week before 100 per cent of the results are finalised. EU leaders meet for an informal summit over dinner in Brussels on Tuesday evening to consider the results of the European Parliament elections.

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy, whose department oversees the management of the elections, urged people to go out and vote on Friday. “You have the opportunity to cast three very important votes, the first two in the Local and European Elections, and the third in the Divorce Referendum. If you live in Cork city, Limerick or Waterford you will also have a fourth important vote on whether or not you want a directly elected Mayor,” he said. “Polls will open at 7am and close at 10pm. Make sure you bring a form of identification to your polling station. I urge the entire country to make sure your voice is heard and go out and cast your vote.”

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times