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Length of ballot paper will add hours to sorting votes

The length of the ballot paper in tomorrow’s European election will cause headaches for the people sorting votes on Saturday.

In Ireland South, the paper will be over 2ft long to include the names of all 23 candidates and will need to be folded four to six times to fit in the ballot box.

As such, those sorting the votes will have to spend an extra few seconds with each individual vote, potentially adding an extra two hours to the sorting process, which involves segregating votes from 12 counties.

The 120 people involved in the segregation of votes will also be tasked with sorting the referendum and mayoral plebiscite papers, as well as the local election ballots, complicating the process even further.

The lengthy sorting process is due to start early on Saturday but counting may not even begin until that evening due to the time spent sorting the papers.

Paul Moynihan, returning officer in Cork City, is overseeing the local election count. He advised voters to take their time when they get to the polling booth.

“As well as a 2ft-long European ballot, there are long ballots in the city too and people may spend time assigning their preferences and folding their ballots after,” he said.

He said the operation in Cork City is substantially bigger than in previous years. The city boundary extension and campaign to register new voters have resulted in an extra 64,419 voters being added to the city register, a 79% increase. There will be some 60 people involved in counting the votes of the local election in City Hall, with similarly sized operations taking place elsewhere.

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