When it comes to elections of any kind, one of the more common phrases one hears is “returning officer”.
There are slightly different meanings and responsibilities for returning officers depending upon the type of election or the country in which the election is held.
In general, a returning officer is the officer responsible for ensuring that the election in question is properly conducted, in accordance with the relevant rules for that election. One of their most important roles is calling the result of the election.
A returning officer has similar responsibilities in a body corporate context. Those responsibilities are provided for under section 91 of the Body Corporate and Community Management (Standard Module) Regulation 2008 (Standard Module). Responsibilities may vary according to the applicable Module and for the purposes of this article I will refer to the Standard Module.
The key points to consider about a body corporate returning officer are:
- the scope of their responsibilities
- when a returning officer must be appointed (as opposed to the body corporate deciding to do so)
eligibility to be a returning officer
In terms of responsibilities, the Standard Module provides that a returning officer has any or all of the following responsibilities:
- deciding questions about eligibility to vote and voting entitlements
- receiving secret voting papers
- counting votes, or inspecting the counting of votes, and deciding whether a vote is valid.
The body corporate decides on which of these responsibilities are applicable to the returning officer, while the officer’s instrument of appointment (e.g., their contract) should also state their responsibilities.