Polling Day Two Live Blog

[liveblog] 12.25 – Welcome to the second day of our live blog. We’re a bit late starting today, but there’s not much happening. The only people occupying the wall at the front of the Lanyon are from the Christian Union. If anyone’s interested, they’ve got some tea urns on the go.

12.29 – The voting figures stand at 2175, which is just slightly down from 2220 at the same time last year.

12.40 – Gary Spedding, campus personality has asked to come in and chat with us shortly.

12.41 – This morning, I got chatting to a canvasser in the PFC. He told me that he started off this election period campaigning for BackinStudents, but after examining the policies of Student Action decided to campaign for them instead. He gave the example of education policies as a reason that. He cited Eoin Deeney’s promise to extend library resources, but as the University has recently announced this, described it as “a waste of a bullet point”

1.08 – We’ve got a turnout update again. There have been 2251 votes cast, down from 2310 at the same time last year, and way down from 3425 at the same time in 2011, and 3760 in 2010 – however, the larger turnout in those years can be explained by the fact that in those years, polling took place over two days, not three.

1.18 – Just asked for some clarification from Dominic Doherty. The turnout figures represent the number of students who have voted in at least one of the seven elections. That’s why turnout is different in each election.

1.23 – We’ve also heard reports that two members of the PSNI were seen in the Union today. We’re off to investigate. However, we doubt that their presence has anything to do with the elections.

1.28 – We’ve been chatting with Gary Spedding. He informs us that he has lodged a complaint with the Returning Officer regarding sabbatical officers endorsing candidates. He argues that given the public profile of sabbatical officers, created by their image all over campus, their endorsement could unduly influence the result of an election. He has been informed that his complaint has been received and is now under investigation.

2.04 – We’ve just been for a wander to see what we could find out. The Returning Officer has confirmed that there have been complaints submitted by students. We’ve also been informed that there will be a full update for candidates later this afternoon, and it’s not considered to be confidential information, so we’ll catch up on that later.

2.14 – We’ve also got more details of the complaint lodged earlier by Gary. He drew attention to the following electoral rule,
“9.31 Sabbatical Officers are free to take part in an Election in the same manner as any other student. However, they must not abuse their position in any way in the furtherance of an Election campaign. In particular, they must not take part in any Election campaign during hours of work unless they have been granted annual leave.”

This referred to the appearance of Jason O’Neill, Joanne O’Neill and Aidan Hughes in the BackinStudents promotional video, which the Gown reported on in our earlier article, “A Tale of Two Tickets”. On our travels, the Gown also approached Jason O’Neill for some comment on this issue. He informed us that he acts as the line manager for all sabbatical officers, and as such, arranges annual leave for sabbatical officers. He has submitted the time sheets for the last four weeks to the returning officer for scrutiny. He is confident that any campaigning or participation in the elections has taken place outside of working hours. He remarked that all sabbatical officers are on annual leave today apart from Joanne O’Neill and Jessica Kirk, and yesterday only Jason, Joanne and Jessica were in work.

2.30 – Jason O’Neill also commented that the Union had tried to put together a promotional team to promote the election, but unfortunately, could not assemble a team of people who had not already expressed an opinion.

3.13 – Turnout at 3pm stands at 2425, continuing with the trend of being down from last year 2477.

3.15 – We’re hearing the first reports of the Returning Officer’s briefing. The complaint lodged about the appearance of sabbatical officers appearing in the video is not being taken any further. There was also a complaint lodged about the Facebook group QUB Jobs promoting the Student Action ticket.

3.31 – We are also hearing reports that there was a complaint regarding a photograph of Paul Walsh and Build A Burger. This complaint is not being taken any further.

4.13 – As is traditional for Wednesday afternoon, everything is very quiet.

4.22 – We’ve got a turnout update, 2538 students have cast a vote now. Again, slightly down from 2562 at the same time last year.

4.25 – Some interesting voting behaviour statistics. So far, the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy has the highest turnout, with 21.3% voting, the School of Geography, Archeology and Paelaeoelogy is shortly behind with 19.2% and the School of Law turnout rate just makes it into the top three with a turnout rate of 17.9%

4.46 – When the data was taken, at some point before our first turnout report at 8am this morning, when the number of votes cast was reported as 1954, and the last report yesterday was 1477. When the data was taken, 1672 people had cast a vote, out of an eligible 23097. That’s a turnout of 7.2% Although obviously, this will rise before the close of polling on Thursday.

4.50 – There’s a slightly higher percentage turnout among men, but around the same solid numbers with 8.2% voting, or 831 students. 6.45% of women have voted, or 841 students. There are 13,037 women, 10,043 men and 17 students with gender unknown registered at Queen’s.

5.04 – In a break with tradition, first year students are not the most active voters, rather it has been the traditionally cynical third years.

483 first year students have voted, 6.9% of those eligible
406 second year students have voted, 9.1% of those eligible
518 third year have voted, 11% of those eligible
85 fourth year students have voted, 9% of those eligible

6.45 – We’re going to close up shop for the night. A quiet day today. Hopefully everyone’s gone home for the night and will return with plenty of energy for tomorrow.

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

2 thoughts on “Polling Day Two Live Blog

  1. Multiple incidents of students being “assisted” in voting by members of Backinstudents campaign team in the PFC have been reported on twitter. As in previous years they look to be targeting international students, this unfortunately is not an isolated incident to this year as it has been reported with audio evidence in previous years.

    If you see anyone from either ticket engaging in electoral fraud of this kind report it immediately, the inclusion of an independent returning officer this year from NUSUSI means that candidates may actually be held accountable for their actions this year instead of the slap on the wrist they get normally.


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