UCDSU launch voter registration drive with ‘Democracy and Donuts’

Image Credit: Heather Reynolds

The event was held in the Atrium of the Old Student Centre on Wednesday, November 9th, and succeeded in registering more than 400 students to vote.

Any student who filled out a form registering to vote received a glazed Rolling Donut.

When asked why the SU decided to run the event, UCDSU President Molly Greenough said, “There hasn’t been a voter registration drive in UCD since before the COVID-19 pandemic. While an election any time soon is unlikely, we can’t afford to be caught on the hop and want to empower the student body to be prepared to vote when the time comes. As many as half of all UCD students could be unregistered as it is.”

Greenough also highlighted the political relevance in holding a voter drive at this time. “In addition, the passing of the new electoral reform legislation gives us an opportunity to explain voter registration in a much simpler way to students. We felt that ahead of the rotation in the Office of An Taoiseach, it was important to put the concept of the student voice back on the agenda.”

Campaigns and Engagement officer, Robyn O’Keeffe, echoed this sentiment, saying “We’re just trying to make sure that students are registered for any elections in the next few years. We’re doing it quite early, because obviously nothing is expected for the next few years, but with the rotation of the Taoiseach we wanted to start building student power on a national level, and just show the government that students are ready to get out and vote when that will happen.“

The SU saw a solid turnout throughout the three hour drive, with an initially very high turnout inevitably slowing after the initial donut rush. The stand saw a steady flow until it closed in the afternoon, with students continuing to register even after the last donut was distributed.

The SU’s first voter drive since the beginning of the pandemic has been well received internally, with O’Keeffe saying, when asked how they felt about the turnout, “We’re really glad with the turnout, it was what we expected, so we’re just looking to build on that now and continue to get people registered to vote.” 

Regarding student reception, O’Keeffe went on to say “The feedback from students was that they appreciated how easy it was for them to [register], by us having forms ready in the Student Centre, and then the fact that they were able to drop it back to us made it just as easy for them as possible, because we will then be able to send them on to the offices.”

Regarding the future of the voter drives, both SU representatives assured the University Observer that there are certainly more to come, with Greenough stating “It was a great opportunity to speak with our members and we just wanted to make the voter registration process as simple as possible for everyone. We’ll be around campus over the coming weeks with more voter registration drives if anyone missed us on the 9th of November.”

However, students looking to register to vote shouldn’t hold out hope for a sugary reward at the end, with O’Keeffe making clear “We had more than 400 people fill out a registration form, and so we will be doing more voter registration drives, not necessarily with donuts. It was just for the launch, just a little incentive.”

Details of any future drives will be circulated on the UCDSU social media (@ucdsu).