Q&A: Board Election Concerns at Mitchell-Lama Co-op

Q. I am a shareholder in a Mitchell-Lama cooperative. My question is this: If I have concerns about the results of the board of directors election, how can I get an independent person to recount the votes and confirm the tally? Management and the board of directors will not be of help in this situation. 

                            —Checking for Clarity

A. According to Andrew P. Brucker, a partner at the New York office of law firm Armstrong Teasdale: “A shareholder has no right (unless stated otherwise in the bylaws) to demand a recount of an election. Under the Mitchell-Lama rules, promulgated by New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD), all elections are supposed to be supervised by an independent election company, or the housing company’s attorney or an accountant. In addition, all procedures must be approved by HPD. All of this should go a long way to assuring that the election is fair and equitable, and that the possibility of a failure to count the votes properly is very remote. 

“If the shareholder has concerns that something was wrong, they could bring a special action in court if the shareholder was aggrieved. But this would entail hiring a lawyer, and that process may be costly.   

“Finally, if the shareholder really has evidence that there was something wrong with the process or the tabulation, they might try calling HPD directly, who might make some inquiries with management or the housing company’s counsel in regard to the election.”

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