A presidential election in Ireland must take place within the 60 days before the expiration of the term of office of the outgoing President. If a vacancy occurs before the completion of a normal term of office, the election takes place within 60 days after the occurrence of the vacancy. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government makes an order appointing the last day for receiving nominations, the polling day and the period for voting.
A candidate must be nominated by not less than 20 members of the Oireachtas (Parliament), or at least 4 city and/or county councils. A member of the Oireachtas or a county or city council may not nominate more than one candidate at the same election. A former or the retiring President may nominate himself or herself as a candidate. Nominations must be delivered by 12 noon on the last day for receiving nominations to the Presidential Returning Officer, who rules on the validity of the nominations received. If no candidate stands nominated or if all candidates withdraw, the proceedings in relation to the election commence afresh. If only one candidate stands nominated, the Presidential Returning Officer declares that candidate elected Uachtarán na hÉireann (President of Ireland). If two or more candidates stand nominated, a poll is taken.
Counting of Votes
The counting of the votes is carried out entirely in the constituencies and there is no central count. The presidential returning officer ascertains and declares the result of the election on the basis of the reports furnished to him/her by the local returning officers for the individual constituencies. The candidates may be present or represented at the ascertainment of the results by the presidential returning officer and may require a complete re-examination and recount of all the votes cast at the election.
The first count is carried out by the local returning officer in each constituency and the results notified to the presidential returning officer who calculates the quota - one half of the total valid poll plus one vote. If a candidate reaches the quota on the first count he/she will be declared elected; if not, the presidential returning officer directs the exclusion of the lowest candidate. The votes of the excluded candidate are transferred by the local returning officer and the results notified to the presidential returning officer. The process of exclusion of candidates and transfer of their votes continues until a candidate can be declared elected.