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Subject: Board election process not followed
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JenniferB14
(Colorado)

Posts:118


01/07/2021 12:15 PM  
Our board election for 2 seats this year was done via mail in secret ballot as secret ballot is required by state law for a contested election. This was done with a validated address and signature outer envelope and a secret envelope with ballot inside.

A detailed process for the election was sent to all owners prior to receiving the election packets. 3 Volunteer owner vote tabulators were selected during the annual meeting to do the count.

Multiple duplicate ballots were sent to owners in the community. We don't know who all received multiples, but were aware of at least 6 people receiving 2 and even 3 ballots. The management company emailed the owners and said there were a few extra ballots sent, but they have identified who did not receive ballots and were sending them out. (who really knows who got one or more and who did not. It was a mess)

It was discovered 24 hours prior to the vote counts that the board was attempting to change process (through an illegal executive meeting) and all but 46 envelopes had already been opened and separated from the secret ballots. Also the process on how to handle any duplicate ballots was changed from what was communicated.

3 of the 5 candidates objected to proceeding with the vote count. 1 designated candidate observer objected to proceeding, and 2 of the 3 appointed tabulators objected to the proceeding with the count due to the fact that the clearly communicated process had not been followed and the envelopes had been opened. Two board members were on the zoom call with the vote counters and pressured them where one counter ended up refusing to participate because she had duly objected to proceeding. The second vote counter agreed to accept only the sealed and unopened envelopes, and the third vote counter agreed to count them all. It was absolutely inappropriate for the board members to pressure or try to control the process when the vote counters were selected for this purpose. State law indicates board members can not be on the committee for vote counting, but though they didn't "count and tabulate" they were in complete control of the process.

the 46 unopened ballots would be considered a very random sample as to what the rest of the ballots should statistically look like theoretically. The tabulation of the 46 ballots showed the two running pairs of candidates (2 positions and 4 candidates paired up as a team for both seats) were neck and neck separated only by 2-4 votes. When the opened ballots were counted it was a complete landslide for one pair of candidates and out of the remaining 150 ish opened envelopes there were roughly only 30 additional votes out of all of those for the other pair of candidates.

At the end, the attorney and the board members agreed they had not followed the stated process and they had forgotten what that they had written to the community. They ended up certifying that vote count and announced the winners to the owners despite all the objections from those involved.

So the question is, if 2 vote counters objected and one agreed to count and the 3 of them comprised the committee what should be done? Additionally 3 of the 5 candidates objected prior to the count. What should the board have done, and what kind of recourse is there if anything. There are no rules in our Declaration or Bylaws that would have been broken, nor any clear cut laws for our state that have any guidance for something like this. It is really a moral issue and a fiduciary issue for the board to follow their own rules. Short of another lawsuit I don't think there is anything anyone can do, nor would I ever expect the board to listen to the small group of us who actually know what happened. The rest of the owners simply have no idea any of this occurred.
JohnC77
(Washington)

Posts:434


01/07/2021 12:59 PM  
I am in California and own a management company and while I can't conduct electioons for association under contract, I have a separate company to handle elections for those not under contract.

Our process is that you verify the ballots received against any owner list eligible to vote provided by the association. If there are duplicate ballots returned, last one received is set aside and not used.

You should never open ballots under the meeting is called to order and quorum, if any, is validated. Only then do you start opening ballots.

In 2000-2002, I worked for the largest election division in the United States. You could process mail in ballots prior to election day, if allowed by state law, because one thing wasn't required in municipal elections, QOURUM.

IMHO, redo the election, it doesn't appear to have been conducted properly.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:10366


01/07/2021 1:07 PM  
While I can agree the election was done improperly and a re-do might be called for, it appears two candidates ran away with it so the question becomes is it worth doing over?
JohnC77
(Washington)

Posts:434


01/07/2021 1:17 PM  
How about we just throw out the last set of vote and just go with the first 46 that were already opened. That seems to be the way elections should be run.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:4242


01/07/2021 1:40 PM  
Posted By JenniferB14 on 01/07/2021 12:15 PM
So the question is, if 2 vote counters objected and one agreed to count and the 3 of them comprised the committee what should be done? Additionally 3 of the 5 candidates objected prior to the count. What should the board have done, and what kind of recourse is there if anything. There are no rules in our Declaration or Bylaws that would have been broken, nor any clear cut laws for our state that have any guidance for something like this. It is really a moral issue and a fiduciary issue for the board to follow their own rules. Short of another lawsuit I don't think there is anything anyone can do, nor would I ever expect the board to listen to the small group of us who actually know what happened. The rest of the owners simply have no idea any of this occurred.

If you were located in Florida, the way forward would be clear. Most arbitration cases in Florida regarding elections boil down to one thing: If there's a non-trivial chance that the will of the owners was not carried out, then a new election is in order.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:4242


01/07/2021 1:43 PM  
Posted By JohnC77 on 01/07/2021 12:59 PM
You should never open ballots under the meeting is called to order and quorum, if any, is validated. Only then do you start opening ballots.

That's my understanding, too, regardless of what state you're in. Proxies may be opened and validated ahead of time at a special meeting just for that purpose. Often that happens on the day of the Annual Meeting before the actual Annual Meeting takes place.

But ballot envelopes shouldn't be opened ahead of time.
JenniferB14
(Colorado)

Posts:118


01/07/2021 2:32 PM  
This is my feeling personally
JenniferB14
(Colorado)

Posts:118


01/07/2021 2:35 PM  
I mean John77... that the election results should be based off the 46 votes sent in that were left intact and followed the correct process. Doing it any other way is taking the explanation for face value that nothing was tampered with. Plus how can you ignore the fact that 6 people objected to the process before it started!
JohnC77
(Washington)

Posts:434


01/07/2021 2:40 PM  
Posted By JenniferB14 on 01/07/2021 2:35 PM
I mean John77... that the election results should be based off the 46 votes sent in that were left intact and followed the correct process. Doing it any other way is taking the explanation for face value that nothing was tampered with. Plus how can you ignore the fact that 6 people objected to the process before it started!



How do you disregard the votes that were wrongly opened?

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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Board election process not followed



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