The validation of almost 15,000 votes in the Listowel Municipal District is completed. The count is taking place following a ruling from the Supreme Court by Independent candidate Dan Kiely who narrowly missed out on a seat on Kerry County Council in the local elections in May 2014. Seven seats are to be decided by the count afresh. This count afresh arose from a legal challenge taken by Independent candidate Dan Kiely to the Supreme Court. The judges agreed with Mr Kiely’s claim that it was a mistake to interpret a 3-4-5 marked on a ballot paper in the absence of a first preference as 1-2-3. The validation process has been just been completed– teams including legal counsel for the 15 candidates have been closely observing count staff as they check for a first preference and the perforation from the polling stations. This process has also identified the doubtful ballots which are all important as in the 2014 election just five votes separated the last three candidates for the final two council seats. Dan Kiely, the former Fianna Fail Senator and councillor, lost out by just two votes. The pile of doubtful votes was inspected by Returning Officer Charlie O Sullivan and County Solicitor Rosemary Cronin. If there is a dispute about the inclusion or exclusion of any doubtful ballot candidates can request they be brought before Circuit Court Judge Tom O’Donnell – who is supervising the count afresh. This would take place in open court in Limerick where the judge is sitting today. In the past few moments returning officer Charlie O’Sullivan has announced that count 1 is now getting underway with staff again checking the validation of votes while sorting first preferences. He said there is a large pile of doubtful papers and these will not be adjudicated upon before 2.30. All the while the tallymen are busy watching count one.
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