Tonight TCDSU Council has voted in favour of a motion to remove the requirement for students to register in order to vote in students’ union elections.
In the past, students were required to register to vote before being able to take part in on-campus elections.
The motion, proposed by JF BESS Class Representative Patrick Keegan, aims to remove this rule, making it easier for students to participate in TCDSU elections.
The motion mandates that all members of the union are automatically registered to vote in all TCDSU elections in which they are eligible to vote in.
An amendment was proposed to clarify that this will come into effect after the 2023 sabbatical elections.
There was also debate around the current voting software used by TCDSU. They currently use EVIABI software in all elections.
Suggestions were made at Council that physical ballots could be used as they were before the first Covid-19 lockdown in February 2020. It was suggested that paper ballots would be one way to remove any pre-registration requirement in elections.
It was suggested that “the union could remove pre-registration in the morning if they introduced paper-based ballots” and that “paper ballots are significantly cheaper than the current online voting system”.
The Education Officer agreed printing costs were cheaper, but said there were also “labour costs” involved, including counting the ballot. She also added that mail-in voting would be required in a paper ballot and “inequality” may emerge between students on campus and students abroad.
Speaking to Trinity News before Council, Keegan stated his concerns on the current system for TCDSU elections: “There were numerous students who either didn’t register to vote in time, didn’t know they had to register, or simply couldn’t register. This can severely hurt the integrity of any election the SU runs in the eyes of students who couldn’t vote”.
Keegan also noted that the passing of the motion is only the first step in the process of removing the pre-registration requirement.
He said: “If this is passed, nothing will happen immediately because the SU and Trinity need to come to a data sharing agreement to make it possible, and this would mandate the SU to work towards that agreement.”
“We need to ensure that every student has a voice, and we need to do a better job of ensuring that people can and do vote in our elections” he continued.