WHEN Waterford voters enter their polling station this Friday they will be met by four separate ballot papers.
One will list the candidates from their electoral area hoping for a spot on Waterford City and County Council (WCCC), while they will choose to elect one of 23 candidates seeking to gain a seat in the European Parliament from a second one.
Another will see the electorate vote on a referendum on reducing the current four-year time limit an estranged couple must spend apart before they can divorce to two years, while the final one is a plebiscite on the Government’s proposal to have a directly elected Mayor with executive functions.
66 candidates are seeking nomination to the WCCC, with as many as 14 candidates running in two electoral wards and as few as five in another. Polling stations will be open across the county from 7am-10pm.
For the first time, the votes will be counted at Waterford Institute of Technology Arena across the weekend, with the count centre opening at 9am on Saturday morning. Almost 100 staff will begin the process of separating the four ballot papers, with the local ones later being divided up by electoral ward. Each ballot will need to be verified with their polling station, a process which is expected to take a number of hours, possibly until lunchtime.
The European ballot papers will be transferred to the Central Count Centre in Cork, with the referendum count beginning first in Waterford. Once this has been completed, County Registrar Niall Rooney can give the thumbs up for the local election count to commence under the eye of returning officer Kieran Kehoe. This may not begin until Sunday morning, with a call to be made at some stage on Saturday afternoon on whether to begin or wait until the following day.
It is likely that the count on the Mayoral Plebiscite will not be held until Monday.