Ireland goes to polls to elect new president

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – Irish voters are headed to the polls on Friday to elect a new president.

Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. local time (0600GMT) across Ireland and are set to close when the voting process ends at 10 p.m. (0900GMT). Voting in some of the coast islands took place on Thursday.

The six candidates in the presidential race are incumbent Michael D. Higgins, Senator Joan Freeman, Sinn Fein MEP Liadh Ni Riada, Sean Gallagher, Gavin Duffy, and Peter Casey.

More than 3.2 million people are entitled to vote in 40 constituencies.

Irish voters are also being asked whether they want to remove the offense of blasphemy from the Irish constitution.

The vote counting will start at 9 am on Saturday but exit polls and projection are expected on Friday before midnight.