LONDON | Irish President Michael Higgins on track to win 2nd term

LONDON— 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.

By Associated Press