Irish President Michael D. Higgins (3rd R, Front) casts his ballot at a polling station in Dublin, Ireland, Oct. 26, 2018. Ireland's presidential election kicked off here on Friday morning as scheduled, local media RTE reported. (Xinhua)
DUBLIN, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- Ireland's presidential election kicked off here on Friday morning as scheduled, local media RTE reported.
Polling stations opened to voters at 7:00 a.m. (0600 GMT) and will be closed on Friday evening at 10:00 p.m. (2100 GMT), according to RTE.
Vote counting will begin at 9:00 a.m. (0800 GMT) on Saturday morning.
More than 3.2 million Irish people are eligible to vote and choose a new president among six candidates including the incumbent President Michael D. Higgins.
According to the latest opinion polls published a few days ahead of the voting, Higgins, for whom over 60 percent of the people surveyed said they would vote, took a huge lead over the other five candidates.
Higgins, 77, became the Irish president in November 2011.
Other candidates include three businessmen, namely Sean Gallagher, Gavin Duffy and Peter Casey, and two female candidates, namely Liadh Ni Riada, a candidate fielded by the opposition party of Sinn Fein, and the independent senator Joan Freeman.
The term of an Irish president is seven years and the president can not serve more than two terms.
In Friday's presidential election, voters will also decide on whether the country should scrap or retain the blasphemy law from the constitution, which currently rules that publishing or saying something blasphemous is a punishable offense.