Local and European elections see 29% decrease in spoilt votes

Local and European elections see 29% decrease in spoilt votes
Count staff sort ballots at Nemo Rangers GAA club in Cork, Ireland, during the count for the European elections. Picture date: Tuesday June 11, 2024.

An Coimisiún Toghcháin, Ireland’s independent electoral commission, has welcomed a 29 per cent reduction in the level of spoilt votes seen in the local and European elections.

Provisional figures collected by the commission show that in the June 7th local and European elections there were 77,464 invalid or spoilt votes. The same elections in 2019 saw 108,488 votes declared invalid. This is a reduction of 31,024 despite a larger number of people voting.

An Coimisiún Toghcháin ran a “Don’t Spoil Your Day” Voter Education Drive in the last two weeks leading into polling day. This campaign saw the Commission promoting its “How to Vote” video online and with community groups, and in more than 25 national and regional broadcast interviews focused on the voting process.

In advance of the elections, 40,000 people visited the “How to Vote” page on the electoral commission’s website.

Local Elections

  • The 2019 local elections saw a total of 1.91 per cent spoilt votes (as a percentage of votes cast) or 34,618 invalid votes.
  • The 2024 local elections (provisional results) saw 1.20 per cent spoilt votes out of a turnout of 1,864,942 or 22,468 invalid votes. This is a reduction of 12,150 from 2019.
  • This reduction is the equivalent of roughly8 quotas to be elected to a local authority.
  • Even with an increase of over 92,000 voters on 2019, every local authority saw a reductionin both the numbers of voters and percentage of overall turnout declining.
  • Dublin city saw a reduction of invalid ballots from 3.07 per cent in 2019 to 1.83 per cent, while Wicklow fell from 2.12 per cent to 1.01 per cent, Cork city from 2.35 per cent to 1.35 per cent and Westmeathfrom 1.90 per cent to 1.04 per cent.

European Elections

  • The 2019 European elections saw a total of 4.22 per cent spoilt votes (as a percentage of votes cast) or 73,870 invalid votes.
  • The 2024 European elections (provisional results)saw a total of 54,996 invalid votes or 3.06 per cent of total votes cast– a reduction of 18,874 from 2019 or the equivalent of the population of Clonmel, despite there being almost 50,000 more votes cast.

Art O’Leary, chief executive of An Coimisiún Toghcháin, said: “Our sincere thanks to everyone who voted on Friday. On the back of our voter education campaign and the efforts of community groups, civic society, Returning Officers, polling staff and the media we have seen a significantly reduced number of unintentionally spoilt ballots, which comes despite voters having to navigate some very long ballot papers.”

By James Cox

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