The Crestview annual meeting information says our inspector of election will be an individual in “environmental, engineering, and operations consulting services . . . including water, waste water, recycled water, storm water, water conservation, and hazardous materials projects.” His only known election experience was doing it for Crestview last year, when there were no non-incumbent board candidates.
In past elections, proxies and ballots were counted by Crestview staff following the direction of incumbent directors and the company’s legal counsel. Shareholders objected when Crestview disallowed some proxies for unexplained reasons, did not allow losing candidates to inspect the proxies and ballots or have a hearing, and issued results that seemed questionable to many shareholders. Crestview’s response in 2021 was to hire a “third party” so that shareholders would trust the process and the results. That same person has a contract to do it again in 2022.
Considerable expertise is required to be an inspector of election. For example, Corporations Code Section 7614:
(b) The inspectors of election shall determine the number of memberships outstanding and the voting power of each, the number represented at the meeting, the existence of a quorum, and the authenticity, validity and effect of proxies, receive votes, ballots or consents, hear and determine all challenges and questions in any way arising in connnection [sic] with the right to vote, count and tabulate all votes or consents, determine when the polls shall close, determine the result and do such acts as may be proper to conduct the election or vote with fairness to all members.
There are firms and individuals that specialize in serving as “inspectors of elections.” They are especially active in home owner association elections. For examples, Google this search term: “inspector of elections california hoa.” Is the inspector of election hired by the board really capable of doing all that in a contested election? If not, this choice may not inspire much confidence.
Candidates and shareholders will want to know how to challenge the inspector’s decisions on proxies and ballots and how to participate in any hearings about challenges. Will the inspector be at the meeting to explain that? If all the explanations about procedure come from company counsel and management, how is the inspector “impartial” as required by law?