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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 18 October, 2019
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Could the same-sex marriage vote be the highest turnout ever?

There are reports from polling stations around the country that there is a steady flow of voters today.

Voting for the Referendums on Marriage Equality and Age of Eligibility to the Office of President are Andrew McCullagh, left, and his partner Oisin O'Reilly,
Voting for the Referendums on Marriage Equality and Age of Eligibility to the Office of President are Andrew McCullagh, left, and his partner Oisin O'Reilly,
Image: Mark Stedman

IT’S LUNCHTIME AND already there are positive reports that turnout is looking good at polling stations around the country today.

The first voters on the islands were out in force last night.

Getting out to vote

Out on Inishbofin, presiding officer Augustine Coyne told TheJournal.ie that turnout at the polling station in the national school was at 70%.

“It was such a slow start we thought it wouldn’t reach 50%,” he said. “It all happened there in the evening after 6pm onwards.”

Meanwhile in Inisturk, turnout was high at about 46%.

Pictured are ballots for the Referendums Source: Mark Stedman

Galway is reporting there is a steady turnout of 13% so far, while RTÉ reports there has been a turnout of 20% in parts of Dublin.

In other rural areas such as South Kerry, North Mayo, South Donegal and North Monaghan there are reports of a turnout between 5 and 10%.

Referendums gone by

As of yet, there are no official national percentages for turnout today, but how has it gone in the past?

Dr. Adrian Kavanagh is a lecturer in Maynooth University Department of Geography, has done the calculations and says there has been 27 referendums in the history of the Irish state.

He said the rate at which voters get out and vote has been varied, depending on the decade and the issues involved.

The voter turnout was low in the 90s and early 2000s, while in recent years, referendum turnouts struggled to reach over the 50 percentile.

The 2001 referendum on the prohibition of the death penalty had quite a low turnout of 34.79%, as did the 2001 Nice Treaty vote.

GOVERNMENT NICE TREATYS LAUNCH Fianna Fail's Micheal Martin, the then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs at the time Liz O Donnell at the launch of the Governments Nice Treaty Referendum Campaign. Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

More recently, the turnout for the 2011 judge’s remuneration referendum was relatively high at 55.96%.

This is in comparison to some other recent votes such as the referendum on the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union in 2012 which struggled to get over 50%.

Children’s referendum 

The Children’s referendum (which was only just enacted after a Supreme court battle) had a low turnout of 33.49%.

The Seanad referendum turnout also languished in the 30 percentile with 39.17%, with the Court of Appeal falling just short of that at 39.15%.

While the expectation is that turnout will be higher than 50% this time round, we wonder if today will beat the highest turnout ever recorded.

When was the highest turnout recorded?

Well, probably one of the most important ones – the very first referendum on the draft constitution in 1937 – the very thing that we are voting on amending today. Turnout was 75.8%.

You might wonder when the lowest turnout was?

The 1979 referendum on adoption rights and university representation in the Seanad, which only managed to attract 28.6% of voters.

Is it possible that this vote could exceed the 1937 turnout?

With more than 60,000 voters being added to the electoral register in recent weeks and the suspected increase in young voters taking to the polls, anything could be on the cards come 10pm tonight.

LIVE: Ireland the talk of the world as voters decide on same-sex marriage>

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