The California Horse Racing Board has appointed commissioner Jesse Choper to oversee the current election for the Thoroughbred Owners of California board of directors.
Trainer Darrell Vienna, a member of the rival California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, had expressed security concerns over the vote-counting procedure for the contentious election in a letter to the CHRB Feb. 9.
TOC members are being asked to select a new 15-member board in a mail-in election that began Feb. 15. Ballots must be postmarked by March 15 to be counted. Ten members of the current TOC board are seeking re-election among 30 total candidates. Many of the aspirants are part of a slate from the CTHA, which successfully forced the election after protesting the former board representation and launching a TOC decertification drive.
The TOC is the legally recognized representative of horsemen in the state.
In a letter to Vienna, CHRB executive director Kirk Breed said that Choper, former dean of the University of California-Berkeley School of Law, would be assisted by Bill Westermann, the agency's supervising special investigator.
The election auditing firm TrueBallot has been retained by the TOC to count the ballots.
Breed said that Westermann would be present at all times when ballots are being opened and tabulated. He said that Choper and Westermann would be furnished with an updated list of all licensed Thoroughbred owners to ensure that only qualified members vote.
"In taking the action described above, the California Horse Racing Board believes the results of the board of directors election will be accurate, transparent and above reproach," Breed wrote.
Results of the election are expected to be announced March 26.