Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Council has passed a motion mandating the body to explore alternatives to the online voting system used to conduct union elections.
The motion identified a number of concerns surrounding the current voting system, such as the lack of a data-sharing arrangement between TCDSU and College. According to the motion, this has resulted in students having to manually pre-register to vote, which may lead to low turnout.
The motion also stated that the pre-registration system caused an issue during the de-recognition of the Graduate Students’ Union as it caused further delays when postgraduate student representatives had to be elected.
The motion noted that the company that created the voting system, Eviabi, was established by two Trinity students, which may “contribute to College’s reluctance to enter into a data-sharing agreement” with TCDSU.
“Switching to another voting system may increase the chances of a data-sharing agreement with College,” the motion noted.
Proposing the motion, School of Social Sciences and Philosophy (SSP) Convenor László Molnárfi described the current voting system as “fundamentally an amateur service” and was adopted “for personal reasons”. He said a new voting system would allow TCDSU “to focus more on getting engagement”.
“Our union is a democratic body… It’s time to give this union a role in deciding what voting system it should use.”
Former chair of the EC Yannick Gloster spoke against the motion, describing Molnárfi’s criticism as “categorically false”. According to Gloster, the current voting system was developed by “professional software engineers”.
“Eviabi was built for the SU after multiple years of quiet shopping.”
TCDSU Education Officer Zoe Cummins spoke in favour of investigating an alternative voting system, but suggested that the motion “could be worded in a more neutral way”. TCDSU Gender Equality Officer Jenny Maguire said that “[TCDSU] clearly have seen there are issues with the [voting] system” and that she didn’t “see the pedantics of rewording it so the tone is different”.
Speaking to Trinity News before Council, Molnárfi said that levels of student engagement with TCDSU has “always been subpar”, and that the “clunky” voting system currently in place presents a barrier to increased engagement among students.
“The aim of my motion is to increase engagement with the union. This is one step further to the union becoming a mass organisation of students rather than merely officer-driven. Furthermore, a new voting system may ease administrative burden on sabbatical officers, who are overworked.”
With the passing of the motion, the Secretary and Chair of Council, Education Officer and the Electoral Commission are mandated to present alternative voting system options to the Union Forum by the end of the year.
Additional reporting by Katherine Henshaw and Ellen Kenny.