Incumbent Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina cast their votes at the polling station in Pheonix Park, Dublin, Ireland, Friday Oct. 26, 2018. Six candidates are competing for the ceremonial post of President, with more than 3.2 million people entitled to vote and the results expected over the coming weekend. (Niall Carson/PA via AP)

Irish President Michael Higgins on track to win 2nd term

October 27, 2018 - 6:55 am

LONDON (AP) — Irish President Michael Higgins is on track to win a second term as election officials begin counting votes from this week's ballot.

An exit poll for broadcaster RTE suggests the 77-year-old Higgins received 58 percent of the vote in an election contested by six candidates. A poll for the Irish Times newspaper suggests he secured more than 56 percent.

A vote share of more than 56.3 percent would be the highest ever achieved on a first ballot, beating the result won by longtime independence leader Eamon de Valera in a two-way contest in 1959.

Voters were also asked if they wanted to remove the offence of blasphemy from the Irish constitution. Exit polls suggest the measure will pass by a significant majority.

Results are expected later Saturday.

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