Seanad ballot papers with Dubsky at No 1 will be invalid

 

CANDIDATES FOR the three Trinity College Dublin seats in Seanad Éireann have been told that any ballot paper marked with a first-preference vote for Karin Dubsky will be deemed invalid.

Ms Dubsky, an environmentalist, declared as a candidate for the University of Dublin panel but withdrew after she discovered she is not an Irish citizen. The ballot papers had already been printed.

The upshot of this week’s decision by the returning officer to make her number-one votes invalid is that any candidate given a number-two or lower preference on those ballot papers will be unable to benefit from the votes.

In a letter received by all candidates yesterday, deputy returning officer Leona Coady said that on ballot papers where Ms Dubsky was given a second or lower preference, however, the counting of votes would ignore the preference given to her and move on to the next highest candidate.

Robin Hanan, a candidate on the TCD panel, yesterday wrote to Ms Coady objecting to that decision, saying it would disenfranchise a number of voters and might affect the result.

He said many TCD voters around the world were unaware Ms Dubsky was no longer a candidate, and any ballot papers that gave her a first preference should instead be deemed to give a number one to the candidate who received the second preference.

The candidates for both TCD and the National University of Ireland panel have said that today is the last day for posting votes in time for Wednesday’s count, given the Easter holiday. NUI registrar Attracta Halpin said some 25,000 votes had been received up to yesterday and the expectation was the final poll would be slightly more than 30,000, down on the figure of 37,000 in 2007.

She said the timing of the election was not ideal as it meant voters needed to have registered before the end of February of last year. The fact that it might be the last Seanad election might also have been a factor, she added.

Two of the NUI candidates most critical of the register, Dan Sullivan and Donncha O’Connell, said the low turnout reflected the inadequacy of the NUI register.

“The approach of the NUI to its statutory duty to maintain the register favours incumbents who can dedicate staff time to filling the register with ‘friendly’ electors,” Mr O’Connell said.