By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Oct. 19, 2017) The Ocean Pines Association Elections Committee discussed the following items during a meeting in the administration building last Friday:
Current Committee Chairman Steve Tuttle was unanimously nominated to continue in that role. Director Slobodan Trendic, the board liaison to the committee, said Tuttle did a “phenomenal job … tackling a very challenging topic” of election reform. Board President Doug Parks will consider the recommendation during the next board meeting, Friday, Oct. 27.
Committee members discussed securing a replacement scantron machine used to tabulate votes in Ocean Pines elections. Apparently a machine at Stephen Decatur High School was not suitable. Committee member Steve Habeger said machines similar to the one used in Ocean Pines could be found used on eBay for about $100, while newer ones cost around $1,000. Currently, the committee does not have a contingency plan in the case the machine breaks down. Tuttle admitted the committee would not have been prepared had the scantron broken during the count last August.
The committee seemed split on whether it should again pursue changing when vote totals are announced. The board, earlier this year this year, rejected a proposal to announce the votes immediately after they are tabulated. All of the committee members, and Trendic, were in favor of the procedural change, but Tuttle cast doubt the directors would vote differently if presented with the same option. Tuttle said the change was presented, in part, because it would allow candidates the chance to ask for a recount before votes are certified. Under the current practice, the votes are counted on the day before they are announced and immediately certified, during the annual meeting on the second Saturday of August. “Now the board is in the position of having to create a square circle,” Habeger said. “If a recount is called for, there’s no plan, there’s not anything. [The rules just state] the board is responsible for doing it.” Trendic suggested reaching out to other homeowner’s associations of similar size, including Montgomery Village and the Columbia Association, to see how they handle elections. “It’s hard to argue against best business practices,” Trendic said. “If this is a common practice in the HOA industry and we are an oddball, that would be good to know.” “If you want to make another run of [the reform] I’m behind you,” he added. Tuttle said an attachment to Resolution M-06, governing elections, was drafted last year to address recount procedures. The committee members set a goal of finalizing the draft by December and presenting it to the board for a first reading by January.
The committee will meet again on Nov. 3 at 10 a.m. in the administration building. Habeger said he would reach out to other homeowner’s associations to ask about vote-counting procedures and committee member Rick Turner offered to speak with Ocean Pines General Manager John Bailey about his experience. Bailey previously managed several large associations in Virginia.