A coin toss could be used as a last resort to settle a tied election within Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU) under new rules set out tonight by the union’s Electoral Commission (EC).
The new procedure for what happens if an election is tied involves in the first instance awarding the victory to the person with the most first preference votes, if that number is also tied the process will then move to determine the winner as the person with the most second preference votes, moving down the preferences until the tie can be broken.
The new rules then state that in the case of an exact tie, that the election will be decided by a coin toss in the presence of a witness.
The EC conceded that before these new rules were enacted there was no provision within the union structures for how to proceed in the result of a tied election
Speaking to Trinity News Yannick Gloster stated that “while looking over the constitution for guidance for how to deal with a tie” the EC realised that no such guidance existed.
Gloster added that “through extensive consultation with the EC and external bodies we determined that the fairest and democratic way to determine a tied election”.
He stated that while these new rules would be used in the case of electing candidates to roles within the union “The EC did not discuss what a tie would look like for a referendum”, adding that the chances of a tie are “extremely small” in a referendum and are more likely to occur in class rep elections due to the “the small turnout as well as the small constituencies”.
TCDSU uses a system of single transferable vote for all elections, whereby voters rank candidates in order of preference, with the option to select ‘reopen nominations’ or ‘RON’ as one of their preferences.
If no candidate wins a majority when all first preference votes have been counted the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated from the race, with all their votes redistributed based on where their voters chose to award their second preferences. This process of eliminating candidates and redistributing votes continues until one candidate gains a majority and is deemed elected.