Monday, April 11, 2022

The Selling of a Country Club Part 4


This post is not directly about golf handicaps.  When a homeowner's association takes over a golf course, however, the election of the Board will have a huge impact on how the golf course will be run.  Below is a case example of how an election should and should not be run.  Golfers should be vigilant about elections to ensure their rights are protected.  It is important that election inspectors are independent and not appointed by the incumbent Board as in the case cited below.

Though a secret election of HOA directors is required by law, the election at this Club was far from secret.   The vote tally was run by three inspectors, A, B, C.   At first, A would call out the name on the outer envelope, open the inner envelope, and pass ballot on to B.  B would check off the name on a master list and pass ballot onto C.   C would announce which candidates received votes and record the votes.  To be fair, I asked the votes to be announced so I could keep an independent tally.  It was obvious there was no secrecy.  For example, the seller of the Club always cast two votes for the HOA's lead negotiator.

After about 20 percent of the vote was counted, C realized the lack of secrecy and would no longer announce the results.  There were three problems with this remedy.  First, the process still allowed election officials to know how each member voted.   That is not legitimate even if the inspectors had no interest in how a member voted.  Second, it was still possible to discern how a member voted.  If C put a mark at the top of the tally page, it would have been for the incumbent.  Similarly, a vote near the bottom would be for a write-in candidate.  Again, the secrecy of the ballot was not protected.  Third, with no announcement of the vote, an independent tally was not possible.  The entire accuracy of the voting relied on C who was putting down marks like “ IIIIIIIIIIIII” across a page.  C could have tilted the election one way or another.  

Here is the way the election should have been run.  The law gives the inspectors authority to verify the member’s information and signature on the outer envelope prior to the meeting where the ballot will be counted.  At this point the first sealed envelope containing the ballot should be separated from the signed envelope.  The inspectors would then count the ballots and secrecy would be preserved.

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