The problem with Friday…

Those in charge seem to have taken heed to the huge criticism about the opening hours of polling stations during the Abortion Referendum. The hours have been expanded from 7.30am to 10.30pm.

Well, I’m still not happy.

Firstly, 7.30am is far too late for many, probably most, workers to vote before they go to work. Who came up with this time? Where have they been living?

At 7.30am Dublin’s roads are already chocabloc with traffic. They need to move it back to 6.30am or earlier.

The second problem is that on Fridays a large number of workers, especially young workers, do not go home after work. They go for a jar. This might sound trivial but a lot of people won’t give up their Friday night piss-up in order to vote.

Trust me. I know this.

So they should cater for workers voting in the morning.

New counties lose out

I read in some obscure piece of legislation that the new Dublin counties (Fingal, South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown) could not be considered when drawing up constituency boundaries.

Why not?

These entities need all the political recognition they can get.

If there is a good argument for splitting Dublin up in the first place then why not follow through and give it the political backbone it needs?

Under present rules Fingal would have two constituencies (three and four seat); Dun Laoghaire Rathdown – two constituencies (two four seaters); South Dublin – two constituencies (four and five seater); Dublin City – five constituencies (two five seaters, two four seaters and a three seater).

Voters might even get to have constituencies that last. Some Dublin communities have been in three different constituencies in as many elections (e.g. Ballyfermot). How can politicians build up loyalty, and networks, and all the political structures that are so important to getting things done if the areas are constantly changing?

They can’t, and it’s the local areas that lose out.

Tougher for the small guy

One difference in this election has been the addition of a twelfth constituency in Dublin while the number of seats, at 47, remains the same.

This means that the average quota across the city has gone up from 19 per cent to 21 per cent. It mightn’t seem much but for individual constituencies it has driven the bar up dramatically.

For example, in Dublin North East last time out 20 per cent would have got you a quota. This time it’s 25 per cent.

Of course, this makes it much harder for the independents and it could be argued that the three seat constituencies favour the political parties. But last time out none of the eleven seats in Dublin were three-seaters so maybe it’s just redressing the balance.

Dublin’s missing TD

Dublin will have 47 TDs after the election. But it should have another one.

If the national average of 21,844 persons per seat were applied fairly then Dublin should have 48 seats.

It gets worse when you look at the treatment of others. County Cork has a total of 20 seats or one per 21,025 persons. If the same ratio was applied to Dublin then we should have 50 seats.

Incidentally, those who call for fewer TDs are getting their way by stealth. The number of TDs per head of population is dropping rapidly.

Ten years ago it hovered around 20,000, the constitutional minimum. With the estimated population of the state now 3,839,900, the average is over 23,000 and rising.

The constitution says there must be a maximum of 30,000 people per TD so there’s still a good bit to go.

Some votes are worth more than others

I’ll finish off my statistical binge by noting that, ultimately, each vote is not worth the same.

How so, you might ask?

Well, in some constituencies, turnout is much higher than others. And while each seat is allocated per head of population, some constituencies have more kids than others.

This leads to a remarkable differences in the number of voters per TD.

At the last election, in Dublin South-West it took just 8,370 voters to elect a TD.

Over in Dublin South it took 11,597 voters to elect their TDs – a whopping 3,227 extra voters per TD.

So a Dublin South-West vote is 38 per cent more valuable, I make it.

(I know, I know. There must be something better I could do with my time.)