Well, the Southern California American Druze Society Chapter election results were announced over the weekend on Sunday, October 4, 2020. The exciting unsealing of the ballots or, should one say, “reopening of the previously unsealed ballots”, was supposedly live streamed over Facebook for all local Druze to see and pretend that it was the first time anyone had laid eyes on the white, oops, blue ballots. They were white, and then they were blue, but that’s another matter. See, initially the ballots were being opened all month long at a little-known accounting office; at some point they were sealed again and sent to the ADS committee in charge of “unsealing” them live on Facebook. According to some members, one could swear on the results before they were ever announced.
For those who don’t know, the American Druze Society, with smaller chapters in states across the country, is a 100-year-old US-based nonprofit organization that was formed to bring Druze families in the United States closer to each other in order to sustain their Druze identity, faith, culture and history. Unfortunately, for such a decorated organization filled with intelligent and respected people, the elections have become mired in mystery, dispute, and lack of transparency.
Many American Druze Society members have shared concerns that the current election process was not transparent. Some reports surfaced of paid members not even receiving their voting ballots from the mysterious “accounting firm” (as it was often referred to). Turns out, the accounting firm being used is called Capital Investment Solution, Inc., in La Crescenta, CA, for whom there is very scant information online. Casual searches on Google, for this name and location, bring up not even a claimed Yelp profile for this company, and a secretary of state search for the same only returns some dissolved filings. Even a California Board of Accountancy CPA License Lookup for the President of the company returns nothing.
So why was this obscure “investment solutions” company allowed to handle ADS ballots? Is there a shortage of trusted and well-known certified public accounting firms in Los Angeles? In California, there are more than 143,500 licensed Certified Public Accountants. For such a “beloved” organization, as the term is whimsically applied by insiders in public pronouncements, shouldn’t more care and consideration go toward such decisions?
And one cannot say that the election process followed the bylaws of the American Druze Society itself. One poignant example shows how some candidates’ rights were brazenly trampled upon when the election committee refused to allow candidates or their representatives to witness the opening of the mail-in voting ballots. One presidential candidate, who ultimately lost the election, was openly denied access to his right to witness the unsealing of voting ballots.
One presidential candidate, who ultimately lost the election, was curiously denied access to witness the unsealing of voting ballots.
The election committee could have done many things, after this ill-(ahhem) nonconforming decision, to allay the concerns of the community. But they did not choose to delay unsealing the ballots, to further safeguard their integrity, and they did not look for a more opportune time after all ballots would have been received, and where there would be witnesses. This would have been an easy decision, but why it wasn’t done is unclear.
An ADS official stated that Covid19 prevented the accounting office from allowing Druze witnesses to oversee the opening of the ballots. Really? It couldn’t be done virtually? It couldn’t be done behind plastic like the coffee shops? It couldn’t be done six feet apart like the restaurants? Apparently, the crucial rights of candidates, foreseen by Druze elders many years ago when creating ADS bylaws, were not as important as buying a coffee or grabbing a burrito.
Then the response for why the candidates could not witness the opening of the ballots changed to: “it would have taken over 12 hours to open 385 ballots (that were received out of 505 eligible voting Druze members), which would cost too much of the accountant’s time, so the accountant decided to open the ballots as they arrived”, week after week. Is this a new lesson that opening ballots one by one, throughout the month, takes much less time than opening them securely all at once at the end of the month? At this point, it became less clear whether it was the patronizing responses or the election process that defied the laws of physics.
Instead, the ballots were opened all month long, by whom (is unknown), where they were stored (is unknown), how they were handled (unknown), how they were secured (unknown), did any unauthorized personnel gain access to them (unknown); and the still unanswered question, repeated many times over, “does anyone on the election committee have a personal financial relationship with this accounting firm handling ADS ballots?” was met with resounding silence and sharp prods from some ADS officials.
Upon asking these questions to relevant board members, the response received was a crude and gesticular “why are you asking–you don’t trust the election committee?” Election processes should have inherent to them, integrity, reliability, and above all, transparency. They should not be based on the personal trust of members of a committee. The election committee members may be among the most respected and upstanding members of the community; however, these questions are relevant and reasonable for any organization or group of people anywhere in the world. And nobody in the community should have to suffer any offensive or hurtful personal attacks for asking such questions. Unfortunately–some were.
Strangely, it feels like groundhogs day here in southern California’s Druze society, with no end in sight to the problems that have plagued the community in recent years, except now there are hundreds more paid members who were hoping to witness the first unsealing of the ballots: imagine that!
You Can Act Now: Contact American Druze Society Officials and demand a secure and transparent Re-Vote for the Southern California ADS Chapter.
ADS National Office Emails:
NEC@Druze.com (National Election Committee)
National Office Phone: