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This is what happens to ballot papers once election counting is done and dusted

On Friday, people around the country turned out at local polling stations to cast their vote on the ballot papers.

Ballot boxes being opened and counted at the RDS in Dublin last weekend
Ballot boxes being opened and counted at the RDS in Dublin last weekend
Image: Niall Carson via PA Images

WELL, IT’S ALMOST a week since Irish citizens took to the polls to vote in the local and European elections and the divorce referendum.

On Friday, people all over the country turned out at their local polling stations, cast their vote on the ballot papers and put them into the ballot boxes. 

Those ballot boxes were brought to count centres and most were opened up on Saturday.

The final results for the local elections came in on Tuesday night, but counting for the European elections is rumbling on – so those at the count centres experienced many long days and late nights over the weekend. 

During this time, TheJournal.ie overheard one interesting question being raised at one of the count centres - what happens to the ballot papers after the election count is done and dusted?

Are they recycled, are they burned, or are they simply just stored away? 

As the green wave washes over the country, it’s a question that has some significance.

Capture Source: Christina Finn via Twitter

TheJournal.ie asked the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government for clarification on the matter. 

In a statement, the Department said: “In accordance with Rule 93(4) of the Second Schedule to the European Parliament Elections Act 1997, the Chief Returning Officer will store ballot papers for six months, at the end of which they will be destroyed.” 

The Department confirmed that the papers are shredded and then recycled. 

In the case of the European elections and divorce referendum, the cost of the ballot papers came to some €350,000. 

In terms of the local elections and the plebiscites, ballot paper costs are a matter for each local authority, according to the Department. 

DUBLIN EU COUNT 758A4469_90571911 Staff removing hundreds of bags of ballot papers at the European elections count at the RDS in Dublin Source: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

Green wave

The fact that the papers will be recycled might be of interest to many who cast their vote in last weekend’s elections, as a “Green Wave” has seemingly spread across the country. 

Looking at the European elections, the Green Party’s Ciaran Cuffe topped the poll in Dublin. 

While he received a lower vote share than projected by the RTÉ/TG4 exit poll, Cuffe was still comfortably elected on the 13th count.

Meanwhile in the local elections, over 40 Green Party councillors have been elected across the country. 

The party had just 12 councillors elected in 2014, after being all but wiped out in the 2011 general election when not one TD was reelected. 

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