Charlestown Board Election
Dear Board of Directors,
As homeowners, we would like to weigh in on the voting process for the community this fall. We seek a process that is secret and secure to ensure a fair election, as is provided for in the bylaws: Article VII, Section 3 – Directors shall be elected by secret written ballot at the annual meeting. And we do anticipate the Annual Meeting to be held in November, in accordance to the bylaws. Article XIII, Section 1 – Annual meeting is in November
We propose a process that would be minimal, if any, additional cost to the community from our usual Annual Meeting voting process. And would be very simple, with one method of voting for every home. Both are very important considerations, given our budget and timeline constraints.
We request that the votes be cast by paper ballot that contains a unique code as an identifier, rather than a name and address, so the identity of the homeowner remains secret. The ballot would be received with that unique code pre-affixed.
This could be done as follows:
1. A master list of 500 unique codes would be created and printed on labels.
2. 500 ballots would be printed, then each would have a code label applied.
3. The ballots, Annual Meeting notice, and a return envelope (to and from address would be preprinted as the COA office, addressed to the Secretary) would be stuffed into envelopes, sealed, and mixed up.
4. Then the printed address labels for each home/lot would be randomly affixed to ensure the codes are not linked to any particular home.
5. The Charlestown addresses would be hand delivered to each home and the others mailed by USPS.
- This would be done by a group representing board members, including the Secretary, homeowners, and our CMG office manager.
- A master list of codes would be kept at the COA office and by the Secretary.
Once the ballots are prepared, we propose other details of the process as follows:
- Each homeowner would receive their ballot and meeting notice as prepared above, 14-21 days ahead of the Annual Meeting, with their unique code on their ballot. Included on the ballot are instructions on how many votes to cast, what validates and invalidates the ballot, how to return the ballot in a sealed envelope, the deadline for returning the ballot, and whether their vote also constitutes a proxy for quorum only, etc. Very similar to the usual ballot.
- And the Section 3 – Written notice by mail or delivery to lot, must be given 14-60 days prior, as usual.
- Each ballot may still count as a proxy for the purpose of quorum. Section 4 – 1/10 (50 lots) required for quorum
- Because we are not holding an in-person election this fall, according to the bylaws, we are voting by referendum. Article XIV, Section 5 (b). Accordingly, those paper ballots would be returned, addressed to the Secretary, and we propose the deadline be by noon on the day of the Annual Meeting.
- Ballots are only considered valid if they are returned in a sealed envelope (by mail or dropped off at the COA office), addressed to the secretary, without any external lot/owner identifying information, and that the envelope remains sealed until the group is present to count the ballots.
- Counting the ballots shall be overseen by the Secretary, and performed by 4 homeowners, who have volunteered, none of which are on the ballot, or currently on or have served previously on the board, along with 1 CMG representative.
- This will be done prior to the board meeting and will be considered to both generate the vote tally and certify the election results. Confirming that the counted votes were valid as cast, including checking that codes were all on the master list and each only used once.
- The Secretary will announce the results at the board meeting.
We believe this to be a low cost and labor efficient way to generate the ballots, using the community resources wisely, as well as a voting method that will ensure the most participation in a fair, secret and secure election process.
To accommodate the concern that ballots could be lost, this is the "fix". It would require a little more time to prepare the ballots and annual meeting notice packets. But would enable a replacement ballot to be provided.
- There would be a master list tying the 500 codes to addresses. If a ballot was lost and a replacement was needed, the office manager would issue one, (Ben, our office manager would be the only one with access to this list). The replacement would be marked "replacement" and have the same code for the address handwritten on it.
- If the proxy must contain a name, it would be on a separate paper, separated upon opening the envelopes, and counted separately from the ballots.
- All ballots and proxies still must be returned in a sealed envelope with no markings on the outside identifying the address or homeowner. There will be no checking off which homes have and haven't returned a ballot, as has happened each year in the past.
- Homeowners would be encouraged to drop their ballot envelopes into the locked mailbox at the office, rather than relying on USPS. Envelopes would be transferred to the locked filing cabinet by the office manager.
- Prior to counting, a list would be made of which codes had requested a second ballot. A list of all codes (without addresses) and the list of codes with a second ballot requested, would be provided to the homeowners who have volunteered to count. They will ensure each code and ballot is valid. The list matching codes and addresses would be destroyed prior to vote counting.
- What to do If there are two ballots with the same code. If a second was requested, the replacement ballot is counted and the first (with the code on a label) is discarded. If a second ballot was not requested, but a replacement is returned, the first ballot with the code printed on a label is counted.