USU Board Director Liam Carrigan today presented a request to President Tara Waniganayaka and President-Elect Alisha Aitken-Radburn for a special meeting of Board to be held to endorse his claim to the position of Vice President-Elect.
The request, co-signed by Ed McMahon, Atia Rahim, and Marco Avena, follows the controversial election of Liv Ronan to the position last week. Carrigan was originally declared the winner of the secret ballot 7-6, and the meeting to decide next year’s executive closed. However, it was then reopened and the ballot of Rahim was declared invalid, as she had voted twice: once for Carrigan and once for Aitken-Radburn, who was not nominated for the position. With Rahim’s vote cast aside, the count became 6-6 and the decision was passed to the bulwark of all great democracies: a hat. Ronan’s name proceeded to be drawn.
In a statement to Honi, Carrigan noted that the original ruling of the election’s returning officer, Miiko Kumar, was that he had won the vote and at that moment he became the Vice President-Elect. Citing the “common law of meeting procedure and elections”, he argued that the RO then had no power to “undeclare” that result, and the only way to remove him from his position, as specified in the USU’s constitution, was through a special resolution of Board. No such resolution was passed. Given this, he suggested it was misleading to even refer to Ronan as the Vice President-Elect.
“My issue lies with how Miiko declared me elected and had no power to undeclare and re-declare the election. It [the special meeting] will not be an attempt to overrule the RO but rather recognize the original declaration as the legitimate one,” Carrigan explained.
Speaking to Honi, McMahon acknowledged that there were potential questions over the capacity of President Waniganayaka and CEO Andrew Woodward to call a special meeting of the incoming Board, given that it does not assume its duties until July 1, but stated that they would be willing to put Carrigan’s argument to the current Board if required.
When approached by Honi for comment, Ronan said, “As with any Board decision or election, Liam is welcome to pursue the avenues of appeal available to him. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to working under Alisha and for the Board, the Union and its members as the rightfully elected Vice President. I am dedicated to fostering a unified Board for the coming year, and have already raised the prospect of electoral reform with Liam.”
The returning officer, practising barrister and senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Miiko Kumar, gave a succinct response to Honi’s questions: “The USU Vice President that was elected was Olivia Ronan”. She offered no further comment on the merits of Carrigan’s argument.