Belfast Telegraph

EU Election 2019

EU elections: Slow start to vote suggest a low turnout

Diane Dodds and husband Nigel arrive to cast their votes in Banbridge
Diane Dodds and husband Nigel arrive to cast their votes in Banbridge
UUP candidate Danny Kennedy, wife Karen and children Philip and Hannah in Bessbrook
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood with wife Rachael and their two daughters
Sinn Fein candidate Martina Anderson in Derry
Alliance leader Naomi Long and husband Michael in east Belfast
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

The local parties reported voting in Northern Ireland's EU election was fairly slow yesterday and predicted a lower turnout than in the council elections three weeks ago.

A total of 53% of the electoral voted in the local government poll on May 2, but politicians across the divide said that at 5pm yesterday turnout appeared down from that election.

Follow updates from the count centre on Monday at our Election Hub here.

The Armagh average at 5pm was reported to be 28%, but in Carrickfergus there were reports of turnout varying from 16-21%. In Dromore, Co Down, turnout was reported at 22% at 5pm.

However, there were hopes that voting would pick up before polls closed at 10 p.m.

Polling stations opened at 7am with almost 1.28m people entitled to vote.

Turnout in the 2014 EU election here was 52%.

Eleven candidates are vying for three seats this time round.

Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson and the DUP's Diane Dodds seem set to be returned comfortably.

The Ulster Unionists' Danny Kennedy, Alliance leader Naomi Long, and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood are all involved in a close battle for the third seat.

The bookies placed Mrs Long as the narrow favourite to take the seat previously held by the UUP's Jim Nicholson.

Most of the candidates voted yesterday morning.

Ms Anderson and Mr Eastwood both voted at the Model Primary School in Londonderry.

Mrs Dodds voted at Bannside Presbyterian Church Hall in Banbridge.

Mr Kennedy voted at Bessbrook Primary School, while Mrs Long cast her ballot at St Colmcille's Parish Centre in east Belfast.

TUV leader Jim Allister, who performed strongly in the 2014 poll, voted at Kells Primary School in Co Antrim.

Green Party leader and candidate Clare Bailey voted at Newtownbreda Baptist Church in south Belfast yesterday afternoon.

The other candidates are Conservative Amandeep Bhogal, Ukip's Robert Hill, and independents Neil McCann and Jane Morrice.

The election was conducted by single transferable vote, which is a proportional representation system. The verification of ballot papers will take place today, however counting won't begin in Magherafelt Leisure Centre until Monday.

A lengthy count is expected, which could continue overnight or be postponed until Tuesday morning if a full result looks some way off.

Voting in some of the 27 other EU countries will not end until 10pm on Sunday.

Across the UK, a total of 73 MEPs will be elected in nine constituencies in England, and one constituency each in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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