Chris Lee has confirmed that he is contesting the validity of this week’s Law Soc Auditor election. Lee lost Wednesday’s election to Sinéad Rooney by thirty three votes after the third candidate in the race, site Paul Hutchinson, troche was eliminated following the first count.
Confusion ensued on polling day when it emerged that up to 20% of Law Soc’s membership was not included on the list of Law Soc members used by the returning officer. The College Tribune understands that up to 500 members’ names and contact details were misplaced at the beginning of semester one and as a result, site a full list of members was not available to the returning office.
Lee, who also ran for the position of Auditor last year, made an appeal at approximately 5pm this evening to the society’s legal assessors and to the UCD Societies’ Officer Richard Butler.
A statement from Lee reads: “This appeal is on the basis that we believe the conduct of the election was not reflective of the legitimacy of the democratic process and indeed the integrity of the Law Society as grounded in its constitution.”
“We are appealing on the grounds that the membership list in the possession of the returning office, for the purpose of indicating those eligible to vote, was incomplete and frequently found to be inaccurate. There were major indiscretions between those allowed to vote on the day and those who are genuine, participating members of the society. We think voting in the annual election is one of the main aspects and privileges people are granted when they pay their membership dues, and not allowing people to participate in this most pivotal way is a complete infraction of their rights as members.”
Lee alleges that the protocol on how the situation was dealt with fluctuated throughout the day. “The system used throughout the day to determine whether someone could vote was egregiously inconsistent; some people were deemed valid voters on presentation of membership cards whilst others were not, some people were asked for photo identification whilst again others were not and the list the returning office was finally referring to in all cases was rife with errors. These errors included duplicated listings of members, wrong student numbers associated with students’ names and as previously mentioned members not being present on the list whatsoever.”
In a short statement made available to the College Tribune, the current Law Soc Auditor Sinéad Rooney said: “Chris has a right to appeal the election, and that appeal lies at the hands of the legal assessors of the Society. I have been informed by the legal assessors that they are reviewing the situation and will come to a decision. As it stands, I am the Auditor of the Society and will endeavor to do my best for the Society.”
When asked by the College Tribune what he believed would be the best solution to the issue Lee said, “We do not feel we can propose a solution, the legal assessors and to societies officer have the final call on what solution we choose to go with.”
Lee also told the Tribune that he was unaware of any mechanism within the society to deal with such an appeal. “In institutional memory there is no precedent for appeal, there are no constitutionally outlined mechanisms for an appeal. It is up to the legal assessors and the societies officer to decide the mechanism.”
Paul Hutchinson, who also ran in the election, told the College Tribune: “it’s very unfortunate for all three candidates that the list wasn’t properly maintained and that many members were denied a vote as a result. I can understand after all that’s happened how Chris must feel having missed out so narrowly. The process was almost farcical, as I’m sure all three of us agree and with so many issues arising in the run up and on the day it’s not that surprising he’s taking this step I suppose. I’m not sure what the solution to this problem is, but it’s unfortunate a system was not devised before the election for dealing with the problem of all these ‘missing’ members.”