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Irish people abroad travel home to vote in same-sex marriage referendum

Photos of Irish expats coming home from all over the world to vote in the same-sex marriage referendum have been popping up on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook in recent days, many with the hashtag #HomeToVote.

Irish citizens living around the world are hopping on planes to get home for a vote that could make history

From Kenya to Canada, it seems as though no amount of distance is too great for Irish citizens who wish to be a part of history. (Helen Kennedy / Twitter)

Irish voters hit the polls in droves Friday to vote on whether gay marriage should be legalized  — some of them, travelling thousands of miles just to do so.

Photos of expats coming home to Ireland from all over the world for its same-sex marriage referendum have been popping up on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook in recent days, many with the hashtag #HomeToVote.

From Kenya to Canada, it seems as though no amount of distance is too great for Irish citizens who want to be a part of history.

While gay marriage is currently legal in 19 countries, Ireland is the first-ever country to hold a national popular vote on the issue. If more citizens vote "yes" than "no" at the polls today, the country's constitution will be amended to let same-sex couples marry for the first time.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has urged voters to support the amendment, saying a majority "yes" would represent a civil-rights breakthrough.

Still, in the traditionally Catholic nation, it's hard to predict what the 3.2 million registered voters of Ireland will decide.

The threat of church leaders and conservative groups swaying voters against legalization appears to be a motivator for many pro-LGBT Irish citizens travelling home from abroad this week.

In fact, nearly all of the more than 64,000 tweets on the #HomeToVote hashtag (which was the top trending topic on Twitter in Canada Friday morning) are either neutral, or in favour of legalizing gay marriage in Ireland.

Electoral officers have been reporting a stronger-than-usual turnout at many stations in Ireland since voting opened at 7 a.m. local time today. Many voters in Dublin have, in fact, remarked that the turnout is the highest of any poll in memory, according to CBC's Nahlah Ayed.

Polls close at 10 p.m. in Ireland Friday, and the results will be announced on Saturday.

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