January 9 BOD Meeting on Election Rules

  • Don McPherson

All seven members of the OVA Board of Directors were present for the January 9 Business Meeting at which Board President Gloria Young introduced new General Manager Kevin Hubred, who assumed his duties on January 2. Hubred thanked the Directors for their hospitality in welcoming him and the staff for their diligence in preparing for his arrival. Director Greg Goodwin had to depart the meeting before the Board acted on the two agenda action items. 

On the first, the Board voted 6-0 to accept an amended revision of the Election and Voting Rules that would govern the upcoming 2018 Board election if adopted. The Ad Hoc Election Rules Review Committee (ERRC) chaired by Phillip Herzog proposed the revisions. The second Agenda action item addressed the method of distribution for the required 30-day Member notice of the Rules change.

Hubred advised the Board that in addition to the text of the revised Rules, the notice to Members required by statute includes a Purpose and Effect description of each new or changed rule. Hubred further advised that the notice, including the text of the revised Rules, the Purpose and Effect description and a cover letter conveying statutory Davis-Stirling requirements would have to be produced and mailed to Members no later than January 20 in order to be timely.

Most of the proposed Rules revisions involve voting, vote counting and recount procedures. In October 2017 the Board charged the ERRC with reviewing the existing Election and Voting Rules adopted December 20, 2016 in their entirety and with clarifying and making recommendations to improve the rules and procedures governing challenge to the election process. Herzog stated that the committee focused its attention on vote counting and especially recount issues but did make some effort to revise other areas of the Rules.

Some highlights of the changes made in the revised Election Rules are:

  • Members vote by mailing or hand-delivering a sealed secret ballot-enclosed inner envelope, enclosed within a postage-paid outer envelope that is pre-addressed from the voter’s name and address of interest entitling the Member to vote and to the location designated by the Inspector of Election to receive ballots. Ballot boxes are eliminated. The ERRC believes that the convenience of voting by postage-paid mail will increase voter turnout, and the Association will pay postage only on ballots that are actually returned by mail.
  • Ballots are counted in “batches” of 25 in order to ensure the accuracy of the counting teams. Counting teams will be selected at random by the Inspector and have four members: Reader, Verifier and two Tabulators. Detailed procedures for ballot counting are specified in the revised Rules.
  • An immediate automatic recount occurs after all ballots are counted if the difference between the candidate elected with the fewest votes and the candidate not elected with the most votes is 1% or less than the total number of votes between those two candidates. If a tie remains after an automatic recount the outcome is determined by a coin toss. The Board voted 6-1 with Director Lynda Oneto opposed to include the proposed automatic recount provisions in the revised Rules.
  • In the event of a timely requested recount, the requesting Members must deposit, prior to the recount, the Association-estimated costs of giving notice to the candidates and the membership.

Final adoption of the revised Rules is pending development of the required Purpose and Effect description, timely distribution of notice to Association Members, a 30-day period for membership comments, and timely official action by the Board at an open business meeting in February.

If the deadline for distribution of notice were not met, the existing December 2016 Election Rules would govern the 2018 election. According to ERRC Chair Herzog, the committee is working on the Purpose and Effect document together with General Manager Hubred.  Hubred indicated that arrangements have been made for the revised Rules to be printed and mailed to Members in a timely manner.