Veteran political pollster Sean Donnelly has two election rules that are worth bearing in mind as the Election 2020 count unfolds.

He came across two particular trends when he was writing his first election results book after the local elections in 1991.

Almost 30 years later 'The Donnelly Rules' still apply and are worth being aware of this weekend.

One of the most common phrases you will hear during elections is that "transfers will be crucial" in determining who wins a particular seat.

But Donnelly does not fully buy into this claim and said: "Transfers are important but they don’t always have the influence that we often think they do."

So here are Sean Donnelly’s election count rules as laid out in his analysis of the 2016 general election.

Candidates have to be in the frame on the first count

For a candidate to have a good chance of getting elected they have to be in the frame on the first count.

This means, as a general rule, that in a five-seat constituency the candidate has to come in the first five on the first count. In a three-seat constituency the candidate has to be in the first three places and in the first four in a four-seat constituency.

In the 2016 general election, there were only 12 candidates who came from outside the frame to get elected. In other words, 146 or 92% of those elected were within the frame on the first count.

An example of one of those 12 occurred in the five-seat Carlow-Kilkenny constituency in 2016, where Fianna Fáil's Jennifer Murnane O'Connor was in fourth place on the first count.

Fine Gael's Pat Deering was in sixth place but managed to overtake O'Connor and went on to take the fifth and final seat. Thus Deering came from just outside the frame to claim a seat.

The idea of a 'Lazarus' type recovery rarely happens, and when this rule is broken it is usually from a position just outside the frame, as in Deering’s case.

Candidates must have at least half a quota on the first count

A candidate must have at least half a quota on the first count to have any chance of getting elected. Only three of those elected in 2016 got below half a quota on the first count, with only four in 2011, two in 2007 and three in 1997.

In other words 98% of those elected had at least half a quota on the first count. It is important to note that half a quota will not guarantee a seat, but less than that level will leave a candidate with very little chance of getting elected.

These two election rules are usually broken by political parties running too many candidates. It is not so much the number of votes you have but rather how you manage these votes.

The best-known exception to the second of Sean Donnelly’s rules is Cyprian Brady, Bertie Ahern's Fianna Fáil running mate in Dublin Central in 2007, who won just 939 first preference votes.

Sitting on less than 3% of the vote after the first count, he miraculously got elected through transfers from Bertie Ahern. With nearly 13,000 votes, the then taoiseach was elected on the first count and his surplus brought in Mr Brady, who would become dubbed the "human surplus".

As votes are counted over the coming days, political anoraks can sit back and see if 'The Donnelly Rules' are broken by some of the 515 candidates in Election 2020.