Turnout remains low in Ireland’s first election since the pandemic

ireland
Turnout Remains Low In Ireland’s First Election Since The Pandemic
Dublin Bay South by-election, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By James Ward, PA

Turnout in the Dublin Bay South by-election remained low on Thursday evening, in the first poll to be taken during the pandemic.

Just 24 per cent of voters had shown up to cast their ballot by 5pm, according to figures from RTÉ news.

In Harold’s Cross, turnout was 27 per cent by the evening time, Sandymount saw 26 per cent, Ringsend 25 per cent and Ranelagh 18 per cent.

Polls opened at 7am and will close at 10.30pm, before the count begins on Friday.

It remains to be seen if the pandemic has impacted on voter turnout, but it appears significantly lower than in the 2020 general election, when it had passed 40 per cent by 5pm.

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However, in the four by-elections held in 2019, turnout fell between 25 and 35 per cent.

Candidates took to social media on Thursday evening to urge voters to get to the polls.

A series of safety arrangements have been but in place, to ensure the by-election can be held in accordance with Covid-19 public health advice.

Hand sanitiser is available at all polling stations, while voters are asked to wear masks and observe social distancing rules when inside.

Polling stations are to be sanitised at regular intervals, with Perspex screens set up at each presiding officer’s desk.

Voters will also be asked to provide their own pen or pencil to mark their ballot paper, but pencils will be available if required.

Polling hours have also been extended by 30 minutes to assist Covid-19 arrangements, closing at 10.30pm instead of the traditional 10pm.

The vote follows weeks of campaigning in the race to succeed ex-Fine Gael minister Eoghan Murphy in the constituency.

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Labour Senator Ivana Bacik, Fine Gael councillor James Geoghegan and Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan are considered the frontrunners in the contest.

Other candidates include Deirdre Conroy of Fianna Fáil, and Councillor Claire Byrne running for the Green Party.

The Social Democrats have chosen Sarah Durcan, while the People Before Profit candidate is Brigid Purcell.

The current TDs in the constituency are Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan, Sinn Féin’s Chris Andrews and Green party leader Eamon Ryan.

Long considered a Fine Gael heartland, Dublin Bay South is home to the affluent suburbs of Terenure, Rathmines, Rathfarnam and Ballsbridge.

The other candidates in Dublin Bay South are Justin Barrett (National Party), Jacqui Gilbourne (Renua), Mairead Toibin (Aontu) and independents Dolores Cahill, Peter Dooley, Mannix Flynn, John Keigher and Colm O’Keefe.

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