QUESTION: Some people own three units and they sometimes combine all their ballots in one envelope and provide all three addresses on the outer envelope. Does this count as one toward quorum or can I count it as three toward quorum?
ANSWER: All three ballots count toward quorum. If your records show that a particular member owns three units, that member is entitled to three ballots. If he puts all three in one envelope, he is simply being efficient with his use of paper and postage. He doesn't realize it creates an administrative hiccup on your end.
When you open the outer envelope, you must write "three ballots" on the inner envelope or immediately open the inner envelope to make sure there are only three ballots inside. If he has more than three, all of them are void. Marking the inner envelope means that secrecy is temporarily lost for that owner. However, it is regained once the inner envelope is opened and the multiple ballots are laid face down with other ballots. Since the ballots are unsigned, they become anonymous when mixed with other unsigned ballots.
On the other hand, if there is only one ballot in the inner envelope, you need to see if he cast all his votes on the one ballot. Then, as the Inspector of Elections, you must make a decision. Do you count the votes or void the ballot because it has multiple votes on a single ballot? By statute, Inspectors have the authority to make a judgment call. Inspectors can:
Perform any acts as may be proper to conduct the election with fairness to all members in accordance with this Davis-Stirling Act, the Corporations Code, and all applicable rules of the association regarding the conduct of the election that are not in conflict with this article. (Civ. Code § 5110(c)(8).)
Recommendation: I favor counting votes whenever it is clear what the voter intended. But that is a decision for the Inspector to make, not the attorney. See "Ballot Irregularities."
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