Turnout third lowest on record at just over 33%


LONG VIEW:The 33.49 per cent turnout in the children’s referendum was the third lowest on record since the enactment of the Constitution in 1937.

In all there have been 36 constitutional referendums with some of them being held on the same day.

The lowest turnout was in July 1979, when only 28.6 per cent of the electorate voted in two referendums held on the same day. One was on adoption and the other on extending the franchise for the university seats in the Seanad. Both were easily carried with more than 90 per cent voting Yes.

The second lowest turnout was in November 1996 when just 29.2 per cent of voters came out to cast their ballots on the issue of restricting access to bail in certain circumstances.

That referendum was carried with 75 per cent of voters in favour of the amendment.

The most similar turnout to the one in this latest referendum was in October 2001, when three amendments were put to the people on the same day. One involved ratification of the Nice treaty, another the abolition of the death penalty and the third was establishment of the International Criminal Court.

Turnout for these referendums was 34.8 per cent, with abolition of the death penalty and establishment of the international court being approved by a little over 60 per cent. But the Nice treaty was defeated with 54 per cent voting No.

The turnout in those referendums 11 years ago was just over 1 per cent higher than in the children’s referendum. On the Nice treaty there was a comparable level of No votes in the same constituencies, with the two Donegal constituencies and Dublin North West also voting No to that proposal.

These three constituencies have shown a higher propensity than average to vote No in referendums on the EU. The fiscal treaty, carried with a national 60 per cent Yes vote last May, was rejected by all three.