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Subject: Ballot Harvesting
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DouglasM10
(Connecticut)

Posts:4


07/22/2021 12:50 PM  
Condo located in Connecticut.

Monthly meetings have been held on Zoom. This past June, the association planned to hold normal annual Officers elections. The PM issued specific guidance to all UO's regarding how to submit the ballots to the PM. There was no proxy voting, only secret ballot voting. All ballots were to be faxed, emailed, or mailed to the PM office for compilation.

The day before ballots were required to be forwarded to the PM, I was advised that two uo's who were running for positions on the BOD, were soliciting UO's for support. If the UO who was approached for support agreed to the support, then the two persons running for office asked the UO to hand over their ballot. A total of 20 UO's signed and turned over their ballots to these two candidates. The ballots were subsequently delivered to the PM office personally by these candidates.

The day of the Unit Owners meeting, I requested from the Board President and PM to be placed on the agenda prior to the election results being announced in order that I could put forth a motion to void the election based on the ballot harvesting. I rose to place the motion on the table, but was shouted down by a group of UO's who appeared to be intoxicated, and were viewing the zoom meeting all together inside a UO,s garage. The President did not make any attempt to restore order or respect my right to speak under Robert's Rule of Order.

After that meeting, I informed the President that I intended to examine the ballots which according to the association by-laws are to be kept for one year. When I went to the PM office,he informed me that the President instructed him to cut all the ballots in half.

Has anyone on this site experienced a situation like this?
AugustinD


Posts:1585


07/22/2021 1:04 PM  
Is this a Condo or non-condo?

I think what you allege is possibly illegal "ballot harvesting" used to be known as the perfectly legal "gathering of proxy forms."

You say your bylaws require ballots to be kept a year. I think cutting the ballots in half and then offering them to owners is not legally consistent with the Bylaws.

I would need to see your Bylaws and Connecticut statutes (condo Act? nonprofit corporation act?) to say more that might have meaning.

How much time, energy and money are you willing to spend to fight this? This really should be the first question you need to answer.
AugustinD


Posts:1585


07/22/2021 1:04 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/22/2021 1:04 PM
Is this a Condo or non-condo?
Doh on me. The OP kindly posted it right at the beginning of his post. Thank you for doing that.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2393


07/22/2021 1:25 PM  
Haven't experienced something like that - and wow, they weren't even trying to hide their tracks, were they? - but most cases of wrongdoing in condo associations will come down to the similar methods of dealing with them.

* First, do your state's laws or bylaws have any provisions for mediation or alternative dispute resolution, or are you stuck with getting a lawyer and suing the association?

* If you do choose to pursue this, what do you hope will be the outcome? How likely are you to get the outcome you want? (Court cases can be crap shoots.) Can you live with the consequences of following your chosen path? These consequences can include much time and money and effort spent, as well as a bunch of ticked-off neighbors since a lawsuit may result in raised assessments and difficulty in selling homes.

* Do you have allies among your neighbors who would support your efforts, or are you on your own? Many homeowners are hot to trot when it comes to tossing out bad board members but they disappear when it's time for them to step up and actually replace them. You can't change the current situation by yourself.

With these kinds of bad situations, your choices nearly always boil down to fix it, live with it, or move. Fixing it is hard work, living with it requires a certain amount of willful blindness (and may not be the wisest choice), and moving is generally the easiest and quickest solution.

I wish I had easier solutions, but there it is.
MaxB4


Posts:1210


07/22/2021 1:30 PM  
IF, this were California, there would be a serious problem with a candidate collecting ballots. They can collect proxies, but since there are no proxies, then the election should be invalidated.

The reason, the chain of custody was broken. The OP stated the ballots had to be faxed, emailed or mailed. Dropping off was not an option.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11417


07/22/2021 3:22 PM  
Doug

If a "secret ballot" how could it be FAXed or Emailed? Would the ballot not be valid if the voter themselves brought it to the PM?

While I do not agree with destroying the ballots, I do not think as "big a crime" as you think was committed.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8524


07/22/2021 4:56 PM  
How could the ballots be "secret" if faxed, etc.??? "Secret" the way it's used in CA HOAs means no one know who voted for whom.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1003


07/22/2021 5:11 PM  
If the ballots were sealed, then I also think this is being a little nit-picky. Now if you know that other ballots were rejected if handed to the manager, that is a different story.

Obviously, destroying the ballots is wrong and the election should be invalidated based solely on that.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8524


07/22/2021 5:52 PM  
How can a voter fax a sealed ballot?
MaxB4


Posts:1210


07/22/2021 6:22 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/22/2021 5:52 PM
How can a voter fax a sealed ballot?



Depends on Connecticut's definition of "secret" is.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4175


07/23/2021 6:35 AM  
I haven't seen any more responses from the OP, so I hope he found a way to resolve this.

Our community ity hasn't had this issue. We send out proxies that can only be mailed in, dropped off at the property manager's office, or bought to the meeting (usually by whoever the owner designated to cast a vote on his/her behalf. The mailed proxies (which double as ballots) are opened and counted during the meeting.

In this case, it would appear the candidates who collected ballots were in the wrong (how can you tell they weren't tampered with?). I'd also be concerned the person signing the ballot might not be a bona fide owner or is delinquent and ineligible to vite. That's another reason we open the ballots at our meeting - we check against the homeowner list and only work those home receive a ballot.

Personally, I'd suggest another vote and this time, skip the faxing or emails. If you still want to do this electronically, there should be some sort of portal where homeowners could only vote once (inputting an account number might help because the computer could recognize another vote and void it). That may be something to consider for the next election, so you'll have time to research the matter to make sure this is compliant with your documents and possibly state HOA law.
DouglasM10
(Connecticut)

Posts:4


08/02/2021 9:08 AM  
The ballots would be emailed, mailed or faxed directly to the PM.
During the harvesting process, the ballots were viewed by the individuals who personally transported the ballots to the PM, which removed the secrecy of the ballots.
DouglasM10
(Connecticut)

Posts:4


08/02/2021 9:08 AM  
The ballots would be emailed, mailed or faxed directly to the PM.
During the harvesting process, the ballots were viewed by the individuals who personally transported the ballots to the PM, which removed the secrecy of the ballots.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4175


08/02/2021 10:39 AM  
If this is still going on, I think you need to get like-minded neighbors together and all of you push for another election. This time, no faxing or emailing of ballots AT ALL. Designated homeowners should serve as ballot counters - during an open meeting where the ballots are open at that time. They could be mailed to a designated post office box or people could drop them off personally at the meeting site on that day (the homeowner should place them in an envelope and seal it before dropping them off).

People attending the meeting don't need to drop off the ballot - they can raise their hands to indicate who they want. That could be done before or after the ballot counting. If someone sent in a ballot and then showed up, he/she can choose to toss that ballot and vote in person, or leave the ballot alone and keep their hand down.

As far as the candidates are concerned, I don't have an issue with them going door to door to encourage people to vote for them, but skip collecting of ballots - if the homeowner wants to vote for them, they'll need to send the ballot to the PO box or drop it off themselves.
If the board says no to all this, you may have no choice but to get an attorney and pursue it that way, or see if your state has some sort of ombudsman program or agency that assists people with HOA problems.
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