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Academic Registry and the Seanad 2016 elections

Published April 29th, 2016

There was great excitement around the campus earlier this week as the count for election to Seanad Éireann within the University of Dublin took place in the Public Theatre.

The Constitution gives Trinity the responsibility of electing three university seats to Seanad Éireann. The electorate is deemed to be scholars or graduates of the college admitted to a degree (excluding honorary degrees) who are also citizens of Ireland.

With responsibility for maintaining student and graduate records, the Academic Registry is ideally placed to manage the running of the University of Dublin electoral process. The Head of Academic Registry, Leona Coady, is also the Deputy Returning Officer, with the Provost as the Returning Officer.

The role of the returning officer and their deputy is to oversee the fair and impartial conduct of the election and adjudicate on any matters that may arise.

In order to ensure as many alumni and scholars were registered, this year, the Academic Registry took out an ad in the national newspapers alerting all eligible TCD graduates of the upcoming election. Subsequently, the Seanad support team, comprising Joel McKeever, Sarah Cummins and Shane Coultry, along with a volunteer network or staff and students, was put in place to coordinate the nomination and ballot process for candidates, dispatch ballots to electors, and answer any queries specific to the election.

Ballot boxes were opened early on Tuesday morning, April 26th, and counting commenced, lasting for two days until late in the evening of the 27th. In total 16,064 votes were deemed valid once all boxes had been opened.

Senator David Norris was re-elected on the first count with 4,070 votes, above the quota set at 4,017. Senator Norris is the Father of the House, leader of the Independent University Group in Seanad Éireann and former TCD lecturer. Senator Norris was first nominated as a member of the Seanad in 1987.

Senator Ivana Bacik was re-elected on the 13th count with 4,144 votes exceeding the quota of 4,017. Senator Bacik is the Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin, a qualified barrister, and a senior lecturer and fellow of Trinity College Dublin (elected in 2005). Ivana has been a senator for the University of Dublin constituency since 2007.

The count then became extremely tight with three candidates vying for the final seat – Senator Seán Barrett, former TD Averil Power and TCD SU President Lynne Ruane.

Senator Lynne Ruane was finally elected on the 15th count with 3,343 votes without meeting the quota. Senator Ruane is a current student of Trinity and is currently serving as the President of Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union. Lynne is a first-time candidate and the only new senator to be returned in this year’s vote.

After a great deal of preparation for the election and two days of very little sleep, the Academic Registry team was delighted to close out the 2016 Seanad Éireann elections. There won’t be much time to rest though, with exam season about to start and a busy summer ahead with the preparation of CAO offers in August followed by a hectic registration period.