Belfast Telegraph

Crisis poll drew the highest turnout in two decades

By Noel McAdam

Almost two-thirds of Northern Ireland's electorate turned out to vote in the crisis Assembly election, it has been confirmed.

Turnout in an Assembly election hit its highest point in almost 20 years - since the poll following the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

The total percentage voting went up in every single constituency, and across the province was a significant 10% higher than in the last election 10 months ago.

With the future of power-sharing at stake - and a return to Direct Rule from Westminster a distinct possibility - a total of 812,783 votes were cast.

That amounted to an official turnout figure of 64.78%.

There were strong indications, however, that nationalist and Alliance voters formed a higher proportion of the increased turn-out than unionists.

In May last year, the overall turnout was 54.9%, slightly down on the 2011 election figure of 55.7%.

By comparison, the first election following the Agreement in June 1998 saw a turnout of 69.88%

In her first election as chief electoral officer - only a month after taking up the position - Virginia McVea said voting had gone from "steady" to "brisk" even as the weather took a turn for the worse during Thursday's poll.

But there were still wide discrepancies in terms of turnout across the province - from 59.22% in North Down to 72.61% in Fermanagh and South Tyrone where there was an early recount. The second highest turnout was Mid Ulster, with 72.38%.

All the Belfast constituencies were over the 60% mark with the west of the city the highest at almost 67%.

Sinn Fein also came within touching distance of polling the most first preference votes but were just beaten to the post by the DUP.

The DUP notched up 225,413 first preferences - down 1.11% on last year. Sinn Fein took 224,245 - an increase of 3.89%.

In terms of the overall picture, the DUP secured 28.06% of first preferences compared to Sinn Fein's 27.91%.

Belfast Telegraph


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