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Polls close in Ireland’s first election since the pandemic

The average voter turnout was thought to be 40% across the constituency at 9pm on Thursday night.

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A polling station in the Dublin Bay South by-election

A polling station in the Dublin Bay South by-election

A polling station in the Dublin Bay South by-election

Polls have closed in the Dublin Bay South by-election, in the first election to be held during the pandemic.

Turnout was initially low throughout the day, but picked up later into the evening.

By 9pm, the average voter turnout was 40% in the constituency, according to figures from RTE news.

That compared to just 24% of voters who had shown up to cast their ballot by 5pm.

Turnout was highest in Ringsend, reaching 44% by 9pm.

In Harold’s Cross it was 40%, in Sandymount it was 41%, while Ranelagh saw the lowest turnout by a distance, at 27%.

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Polls opened at 7am and closed at 10.30pm, before the count begins on Friday.

It remains to be seen if the pandemic has impacted voter turnout, but it appears significantly lower than in the 2020 general election, when it had passed 40% by 5pm.

However, in the four by-elections held in 2019, turnout fell between 25 and 35%.

Candidates took to social media on Thursday evening to urge voters to get to the polls.

A series of safety arrangements were put in place to ensure the by-election could be held in accordance with Covid-19 public health advice.

Hand sanitiser was available at all polling stations, while voters were asked to wear masks and observe social distancing rules when inside.

Polling stations were sanitised at regular intervals, with Perspex screens set up at each presiding officer’s desk.

Polling hours were also extended by 30 minutes to assist Covid-19 arrangements, closing at 10.30pm instead of the traditional 10pm.

The vote follows weeks of campaigning in the race to succeed ex-Fine Gael minister Eoghan Murphy in the constituency.

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik, Fine Gael councillor James Geoghegan and Sinn Fein Senator Lynn Boylan are considered the frontrunners in the contest.

Other candidates include Deirdre Conroy of Fianna Fail, and Councillor Claire Byrne running for the Green Party.

The Social Democrats have chosen Sarah Durcan, while the People Before Profit candidate is Brigid Purcell.

The current TDs in the constituency are Fianna Fail’s Jim O’Callaghan, Sinn Fein’s Chris Andrews and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.

Long considered a Fine Gael heartland, Dublin Bay South is home to the affluent suburbs of Terenure, Rathmines, Rathfarnham and Ballsbridge.

The other candidates in Dublin Bay South are Justin Barrett (National Party), Jacqui Gilbourne (Renua), Mairead Toibin (Aontu) and independents Dolores Cahill, Peter Dooley, Mannix Flynn, John Keigher and Colm O’Keefe.


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