Mayo people go to the polls today to elect the 30 members of the new county council as well as having their say on who will take the seats in the new Midlands, North and West constituency in the European Parliament. More than 100,000 people in Mayo are eligible to cast their votes today across four new electoral areas of Castlebar, Ballina, Claremorris, and West Mayo.
Returning officer for the local elections John Condon is preparing for a busy weekend in the count centre in the Royal Theatre Castlebar, which will not only host the four local election counts but also the European count for the entire constituency which will get under way on Sunday.
The last Local Elections saw a 70 per cent turn out, but Condon is expecting a little less this time, he told the Mayo Advertiser. “Last time out there was a 70 per cent turn out which was quite exceptional, we’d be expecting it to be less this time. The normal turn out is around 60 per cent, so we’d be expecting somewhere above that on Friday [today], but we wont really know until we get the boxes back in.”
There will be in the region of 230 ballot boxes to be emptied and counted, with the Ballina, Castlebar, and Claremorris areas having slightly more than 50 in each area and 65 in the giant new West Mayo area that stretches from the northern tip of the county to the southern end all along the coast.
The count will take all day Saturday and long into the night it is expected, as Condon explained. “We’ll open the boxes at 9am on Saturday morning and sort them, we will then move on to do the Castlebar count first which is expected to begin around 10.30am. We’d expect to have the first count around lunch time from Castlebar. We would be hoping to have the Ballina count started by 12.30pm and have a first count done there by 3pm, but it will all depend on how the day goes.” The decision was made to get the two larger areas out of the way first, and then start on the other two areas for logistic reasons, the returning officer told the Advertiser. “We have the main hall on Saturday, but on Sunday the European count will take place there. We also have the Ruby Room in the venue to use, so we will being doing the count for West Mayo and Claremorris in there in the evening, but we have to make sure that we will get the count completed for the Castlebar and Ballina areas on Saturday night, before we start the other two. If we don’t get the two counts completed in there on Saturday night, we will have to move into the Ruby Room and we’ll continue it there.”
In the region of 100 people will be involved in counting the votes for the Local Elections, and 200 for the European elections where 1,175,437 are eligible to vote, and a 65 per cent turn out would see almost 765,000 votes to be counted.
In the new Castlebar area there are 27,263 people entitled to vote, and going on a 65 per cent turn out there would be 17,720 votes cast.
That would set a quota of 1,970 votes for a seat. In the Ballina area there are 26,103 eligible voters for the election today, a 65 per cent turn out the quota for the eight seats in that area would return 16,966 votes and set the quota at 1,886. In the Claremorris area 25,045 people are eligible to vote, and each of the seven seats will require 2,035 votes to reach the quota based on a 65 per cent turn out. The new West Mayo area which stretches the entire west coast has 24,967 voters in it and a vote of 2,030 would be required to reach the quota and take one of the seven seats. Polls are open around the county until 10pm tonight, where the 61 candidates for the 30 seats on Mayo County Council are looking for your vote to get them on the council for the next five years. The Mayo Advertiser election team will be bringing you all the news from the count centre all weekend, you can follow its progress online at www.advertiser.ie/mayo, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MayoAdvertiser, and on Twitter by following @MayoAdvert.