Northern Ireland’s referendum result (exclusive!)

It was a quite a contrast to the previous referendum – the Good Friday Agreement poll – which was announced to vast crowds of waiting politicians, campaigners and the world’s media.

Lonely waiting for the NI AV result

With the final count completing in Fermanagh & South Tyrone, tonight’s regional AV referendum result for Northern Ireland was finally declared at 2.10am in an almost empty Kings Hall … shortly after the overall UK result was finally able to be announced in London.

No official media were present when the announcement was made by Graham Shields, EONI’s Chief Electoral Officer, who stood at the special referendum podium that had otherwise remained unused all day and addressed the gathered group. Two Electoral Commission staff, one former Chief Electoral Officer, three Yes Campaign reps, and a blogger/electoral observer.

Collating the results together for the referendum ballot boxes that had been verified and counted in the eight count centres across Northern Ireland, the local results were less negative than much of the rest of the UK.

But it was a little piece of history – the final piece in the AV referendum jigsaw – so I slightly blurred my electoral observer role and recorded the moment for posterity! Broadcasters should note that the exclusive HD video and audio of the UK’s final declaration can be downloaded – though if used, please attribute the source as both clips are released under a Creative Commons license.

Total number of ballot papers counted – 668,869

The number of votes cast in favour of Yes was – 289,088 (43%)

The number of votes cast in favour of No was – 372,706 (57%)

The number of ballot papers rejected was as follows:

a) No official mark – 0

b) voting for both answers to the question asked – 637 – this includes people who voted 1 2

c) Writing or mark by which the voter could be identified – 24

d) Unmarked or void for uncertainty – 6,401

The total rejected votes was – 7,062

The sharp eyed amongst you will realise that the numbers don’t quite tally, and there were in fact 13 missing votes – which is not unusual with a poll of this size.

Across the eight centres, around 2 million ballot papers were verified and counted on Friday. While there will be questions about the length of time it took Northern Ireland’s count centres to all complete the referendum count, there are some positives in the process.

Ignoring the verification of the three separate ballots at the start – which took longer than anyone expected – the time taken to process each round of the Assembly election is at least as fast as four years ago. Election officials are predicting that the end-to-end count time for the verified Assembly ballots will be significantly less than the 2007 election.

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  • The Raven

    Alan, you really played that well with the final pan round. 🙂

    Also the panoramic with the three lonely folk is excellent.

  • DC

    Well done Alan for just being there. Good recording.

    With those numbers it shows Conservatism alive and well in NI, I despair of this place!

  • JR

    Just shows how significant we are within the UK, The Result declared before our ballots are even counted. Nice to know you have had your say.

  • USA

    I must confess to some surprise. I would have thought the Northern electorate, with it’s experience of PR would have voted YES, but then again I didn’t even think the British used political tools such as a referendum.
    Have they always used them or did it come in through Europe?

  • Turgon

    Interesting observation re NI. The unionist parties advocated a No vote whilst the nationalist / republican ones advocated a Yes vote. As such to an extent one would have expected a larger No than Yes vote.

    In NI terms AV would have been mildly interesting at Westminster. FST would no longer have had the ultra tight elections and the assorted unity candidates would have been irrelevant. Unionism would very likely have picked up South Belfast and Naomi Long would have been less likely to win East Blefast.

    As to the UK and referendums: it has nothing to do with Europe making us have them but you can be forgiven for not knowing that. The only other UK wide referendum was indeed on staying in or coming out of the (then) Common Market in 1975. Furthermore referenda are most frequently mentioned in a UK context in connection with Europe.

    In actual fact there seems to be a bit of a suspicion of referenda in Europe at European bureaucrat level. Some of the treaties now seem to try to avoid referenda as when the people of Europe are asked their opinion on further integration they sometimes give the “wrong” answer i.e. No. A gross simplification of hundreds of millions of people’s opinions but in general Europeans seem in favour of some sort of Common market / European Economic Community but less struck on the idea of a European state like the USA.