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Spoiled ballot papers in the Presidential vote ranged from the political to the bizarre

‘A waste of taxpayer money’, ‘Dustin the Turkey’ and ‘no to abortion’ were just some of the sentiments expressed yesterday.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

AS PAPERS POURED out of ballot boxes around the country yesterday following the Presidential election and blasphemy referendum, there was plenty of talk about spoiled votes. 

Rather than mark their Presidential preferences, some citizens took this opportunity to scrawl political messages or the names of alternative candidates on the ballot paper, thus discounting their vote. 

‘A WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY’, ‘DUSTIN THE TURKEY’ and ‘NO TO ABORTION’ were just some of the sentiments expressed.

‘May God forgive you’

At the Convention Centre yesterday, TheJournal.ie spoke with a number of people counting votes throughout the day. 

Voting got under way shortly after 9am. By 11:30am, a handful of anti-abortion messages had been reported as had one ‘Bobby Sands’. There were also some tastefully drawn male body parts.

‘Dustin the Turkey’ was a firm favourite on ballot papers, one counter told us. Another counter said that 20 votes had been cast in Terenure for journalist Gemma O’Doherty.

O’Doherty had hoped to gain enough local authority support to make it onto the ballot herself. She did receive one nomination from Laois County Council but was unsuccessful in securing enough nominations. 

Before announcing constituency results, each returning officer at the count must adjudicate on invalid or spoiled votes. 

It’s part of formalities throughout the count, Dublin City Sheriff James Barry told TheJournal.ie.

Sorting through ballot papers believed to be invalid in the Dublin North West constituency, returning officers yesterday discarded several ‘NONE OF THE ABOVE’ messages as well as a ‘CHRIST IS KING’ message. 

‘Prefer Bertie’

That same sentiment was also expressed in the Cavan/Monaghan district. 

In Dublin North West, ‘STOP THE SIEGE OF GAZA’ was spotted written across one ballot paper.

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‘TROTSKY, LEON’ featured too, while one spoiled voter asked the country ‘WOULD PREFER BERTIE 2025?’

In the final tally for the Dublin South Central constituency, there were more spoiled votes (1.75%) than there were valid votes for candidate Gavin Duffy (1.7%).

This campaign saw Duffy and four other candidates take on incumbent President Michael D Higgins, who was re-elected to the Áras for another seven years. 

Once the counting of spoiled votes is witnessed and complete, returning officers stamp ‘INVALID’ across the ballot paper and proceed with the tally. 

In one instance, a voter wrote ‘R-E-P-E-N-T’ – a letter in each box marked beside the Presidential candidates. 

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