Counting Underway In Presidential Election

Counting of the ballots, to decide the next President of Ireland,is underway but it is understood that it could be tomorrow before the results are revealed.

The results from the first counts in the 43 constituencies are expected early in the evening or, depending on the official turnout, later tonight.

Voter turnout nationwide was reported to be about 50% despite a record seven candidates standing for the role.

This turnout is down from 70% from the general elections in February. Just over 3.1 million people are entitled to vote.

The seven candidates are Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell, Michael D Higgins of the Labour Party, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness as well as independents Sean Gallagher, Dana Rosemary Scallon, Mary Davis and David Norris.

First the ballots will be sorted so the referendums can be set aside for counting tomorrow, before actual counting of the Presidential votes gets underway.

Once each constituency has a first count result, not expected before this evening, it will be fed into the national count centre at Dublin Castle.

Once all 43 are in, the national returning officer will announce the ranking of the seven candidates and eliminate the lowest so the second count can begin.

While a formal declaration by the Presidential Returning Officer may not come through until Saturday, the voting pattern should be clear much earlier and the final outcome expected to be known late tonight.

The last opinion poll before the official polling placed Mr Gallagher as a front runner in the race with 40% of the vote while Michael D Higgins bagged 25% of the vote.

However most recently the poll 'favourite' Sean Gallagher admitted that he 'may have delivered a cheque from a fuel smuggler' to Fianna Fail headquarters three years ago causing criticism.

Gallagher had already faced a barrage of criticism from the other six presidential candidates over his political background and business deals, including a bookkeeping error over a lodged €89,000 cheque when the new accusation was launched.

Labour’s Higgins was running second before commentators suggested he will benefit from questions over Mr Gallagher’s political background.

RTE have reported with all seven boxes tallied in Sean Gallagher's home town of Blackrock in Louth - the predictions are that Michael D Higgins is beating him 2:1.

Meanwhile very early tallies say Higgins is doing quite well in Dublin South East and with 20 boxes open Higgins and Gallagher are neck and neck, according to a tally report from RTÉ's Ciaran Mullooly's, in Longford/Westmeath.

Early tallies from count centres around the country in the presidential election indeed suggest it is a two-horse race between Seán Gallagher and Michael D Higgins.


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