Voting Matters | In the Dark

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Voting Matters | In the Dark


Straffan Road, Maynooth

I’m briefly back in Maynooth in order to cast my vote in the Local and European Parliament Elections being held today, which I did earlier this morning. Both elections are held under Proportional Representation (Single Transferable Vote) which seems to me a very sensible system. One ranks the candidates in order of preference; you can rank all the candidates or just some. In the system employed here in Ireland, votes are progressively reallocated in various rounds until one ends up with the top n candidates to fill the n available seats. The STV system involves a quota for automatic election which is N/(m+1) + 1 votes, where N is the number of valid ballots cast and m is the number of seats in the constituency.  To see why this is the case consider a four-seat constituency, where the quota would be 20% of the votes cast plus one. No more than four candidates can reach this level so anyone managing to get that many vote is automatically elected. Surplus votes from candidates exceeding quota, as well as those of eliminated candidates, are reallocated to lower-preference candidates in this process.

The Local Elections involve filling 40 seats on Kildare County Council, with five councillors representing Maynooth. The nine candidates are listed here, in case you’re interested. Some of the councillors applying for re-election have been diligent in dealing with local issues over the last five years and have in my opinion earned a vote. Other have only appeared since the election notice was given.

For the European Parliament Elections things are a bit more complicated. For the purposes of the EU elections Ireland is divided into three constituencies: Dublin, Ireland South and Midlands North West. I am in the latter, which elects four MEPs. There were 17 candidates for 4 MEPs in this constituency in 2019 but there are 27 this time round, for 5 MEPs, listed here. A sizeable fraction of these are sundry far-right loons, anti-vaxers, and general dickheads, whom I hope will be eliminated. The long list of candidates, however, means that it will take some time to complete the counting for the European elections, which won’t even start until Sunday. The Local election count will start tomorrow morning, and is expected to be completed by Sunday.

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