Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) has refuted criticisms outlined by the Trinity branch of the Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation (PWO) on Twitter. The objections centred around the operation of the recent Union-run elections for postgraduate committee positions.
On Twitter, the PWO stated that the Union’s voting system is “disenfranchising PhDs en masse”. The organisation further claimed that voters had been turned away from ballot boxes due to a shortage in paper ballots, and that there was no online voting option available as an alternative.
In a statement to The University Times, TCDSU said that ballots were pulled because of “election interference” rather than a physical shortage. The Union said it was “made aware of an email sent out by the PWO in violation of the Union’s longstanding electoral regulations endorsing their own PWO member candidates over others via electronic mailing lists”.
The statement further alleged that members of the PWO were harassing polling clerks in person, behaviour the Union said it was “extremely disappointed by”.
The Electoral Commission has decided to rerun the Postgraduate Committee election next week “to remedy this breach of election regulations by the PWO”. Candidates will be reminded of “the appropriate decorum and behaviour which is expected”.
The Union also rejected the PWO’s claim that there was “no online voting option” for the elections. According to the Union, “there was an accessible voting form which was circulated on 25th September via the weekly email to the entire student body”.
Speaking to The University Times via email, TCDSU President László Molnárfi said that he did not authorise the TCDSU statement, and that he is dissenting from it, indicating disagreement and potential disconnect within the Union itself.
This year, the Union replaced the online voting system with paper ballots for the first time since the pandemic. This caused delays at the first Student Council meeting of the year on Tuesday evening, and only 21 elections were held of the 45 planned.
On Twitter, former Chair of Council and Chair of the Electoral Commission Yannick Gloster said that the Union “previously had a contract with an online voting platform which had been built for TCDSU by software engineers who were former students but the current sabbatical officers opted to break out of that contract this year”.