Today marks a sad day in Northern Ireland's electoral history. No, not the unpleasantness in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, or even the disappointments elsewhere.
Today marks the end of a long and unpretentious tradition in Northern Ireland, probably dating back a hundred years. For today is the very last district council by-election that Northern Ireland will ever enjoy – Castlereagh East.
In March the law changed to allow the parties to nominate a replacement for any seat that becomes 'casually vacant', but the Notice of Election for Iris Robinson's seat on Castlereagh Borough Council was published just a few days before the law changed, and thus the election will go ahead. Treasure it, though, because it will be the last.
So while 99% of the voters in Northern Ireland will be faced with a single ballot paper today, the lucky – and historic – few in Castlereagh East (all 14,000 or so of them) will be faced with two.
Almost definitely the DUP will win this small victory, but equally certainly the world will not notice. Other events will overshadow the sadness of Castlereagh East. The world will be a slightly emptier place, and a slightly less democratic one, without the sporadic fun of a district council by-election.
The parties may not mourn your passing – after all it will save them money, effort and uncertainty. The District Councils blessed with casual vacancies will save around £25,000 each time, to the rate-payers relief. The Electoral Office too will enjoy the longer periods of quiet between the major elections – and may even be able to save the tax-payer some money too.
So slip away into the night, dear district council by-election – you will not be entirely forgotten – in the hearts of Northern Ireland's small band of psephologists you will always be remembered with nostalgia.