Thousands of Seanad ballots for university panels undelivered
Nearly 10,000 voting papers sent back to Trinity College Dublin and 13,000 to NUI
NUI chancellor Maurice Manning: If graduates “could register and download their vote online a lot of the problems being experienced at present could be avoided”. Photograph: The Irish Times
Independent Senator and candidate Averil Power said a number of voters had not received their voting papers two weeks after they were due to be posted out. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times
More than 20,000 ballot papers for the university panels in the Seanad elections have been returned to the colleges as undelivered.
Almost 10,000 voting papers were returned to Trinity College and approximately 13,000 to NUI.
Independent Senator and Trinity College Seanad candidate Averil Power raised the issue when a number of voters told her they had not received their voting papers two weeks after they were due to be posted out.
“Many people were away over Easter,” she said. “They returned to find a note that An Post had sent their ballot papers back to Trinity as they hadn’t been home to sign for them.”
She said others discovered their votes were posted to old addresses they had not lived at in years.
“As a result one in six TCD Seanad voters will be unable to take part in the election unless they contact the college and get their ballot papers reissued.”
The University of Dublin confirmed that almost 10,000 undeliverable ballot papers have been returned to the college. A total of 9,480 registered delivery papers were returned.
A total of 6,652 completed ballots have been received by the college.
The total electorate of the Trinity College Dublin Seanad panel is 57,732 graduates.
The NUI electorate is almost twice that of Trinity at 103,131 and about 13,000 ballot papers were returned undelivered and almost 11,000 completed ballot papers were returned.
Ms Power said voter registration and polling could be done securely online and it would be far less costly, reflecting a recommendation in the 2015 report on Seanad reform chaired by NUI chancellor Maurice Manning.
Mr Manning said on Thurseday that if graduates “could register and download their vote online a lot of the problems being experienced at present could be avoided”.
But he said there was also the issue of graduates from the non-traditional universities who had been granted the right by referendum in 1979 to vote in the Seanad elections but this had still not been legislated for.
“This could result in an electorate of almost half a million. This is a question that has to be dealt with.”
If a voter is not at home the ballot paper is kept for three days by An Post at the local sorting office before being returned to the college.
However, it is up to graduates to inform colleges of their up to date address. As one person involved in the process described it, voting in the Seanad election on the university panels “is a privilege, not a right” and if graduates want to avail of it they should register their correct address.
Election to the Seanad is by postal vote which is sent registered post to graduates of Trinity and NUI universities, wherever they are worldwide.
Both Trinity and NUI will reissue undelivered ballot papers on request either to the same address or an updated one. They have until April 18th to change their details as voters must return their completed ballots by post before 11am on April 26th.
NUI graduates can update their address by going to nui.ie/elections while TCD graduates should email firstname.lastname@example.org