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Guest Russell Alexander

Possible illegal election - need help

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Guest Russell Alexander

Good day,

My local Blues Society just finished an election I believe to be illegal. I will skip all the nefarious plottings that went on beforehand, where the administration tried to remove all competition.

Article IV, Election of Officers/Directors states:

3. In February notification will be sent listing nominated candidates to the membership, and an official absentee ballot

shall also be printed , including full instructions for completion and submission.

4. The election of officers will take place at the regular March meeting in a written vote, and via absentee ballots

received in advance and counted at the meeting. Successful candidates must receive a plurality of all members voting in

person or by absentee ballot.

No absentee ballot was printed or mailed. The President and VP decided that instead, they would offer electronic voting. They used a survey site that they do business with, which had no safeguards (although they claimed it did - I set up an account, and it didn't. You could change the results by adding anonymous votes).

At the election meeting, ten in person votes went to the challenger. The incumbents claimed victory, saying they had 50 electronic votes versus 21 electronic votes for the challenger. There is no way to verify this.

When I pointed out that no absentee ballots had been sent out, and therefore the election was invalid, the reply I got was :

"In ARTICLE VII - REPEAL AND AMENDMENT OF CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS paragraph 6 states '6. Any member in good standing may submit a written request for an absentee ballot to the Secretary signed, dated, and postmarked no later than fifteen (15) days before the meeting at which the ballots will be counted.'". They then stated there were no requests for an absentee ballad.

I replied that the absentee provisions in Article 7 did not apply to article 4, as they addressed different circumstances. I have not gotten a reply.

I would appreciate an opinion on this, as well as what (if any) legal steps can be taken if they are in the wrong and refuse to hold a new, fair election. I should mention there are also a number of issues with the finances that are not adding up.

Thank you for your help.

- Russell Alexander

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RONR discourages all voting that is not done in person at a meeting. Thus electronic voting, absentee voting, proxy voting, needs to be fully explained in the By-laws/Constitution of the organization and these are up to the organization to interrupt.

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I would appreciate an opinion on this, as well as what (if any) legal steps can be taken if they are in the wrong and refuse to hold a new, fair election.

It is beyond the scope of RONR and this forum to interpret your organization's Bylaws. See RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 588-591 for some Principles of Interpretation.

There are a number of issues here, however, which could certainly mean that the election is null and void and that a new election must be held, such as failing to provide absentee ballots (if the Bylaws require this) and conducting absentee electronic voting (if the Bylaws do not authorize this). Members casting more than one vote could be a problem as well, but that seems difficult to prove, so I'd focus on the other issues.

The way to address this is to raise a Point of Order at the next meeting of the membership that the election is null and void along with your reasoning. The chair will rule on the point and will provide his reasoning. You may then Appeal from the decision of the chair, and a majority vote is sufficient to overturn the chair's ruling.

Where to go from there depends on who you mean by "they" when you say "if they... refuse to hold a new, fair election." If individual officers or the board refuse to follow the society's order to conduct a new election, see Official Interpretations 2006-12 and 2006-13, and FAQ #20 if they still don't listen. If the society itself refuses to listen, you're out of parliamentary options, so at that point it's time to give up or lawyer up.

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This is a prime reason why RONR only allows voting in person at a meeting - anything else becomes complex, and can become complex fast.

Well, while RONR only permits voting in person at a meeting, there are certainly cases where a society would wish to have absentee voting, and it doesn't have to be a disaster. There are carefully laid-out rules in RONR for votes by mail, for instance.

The real problem with the organization's rules is that it provides for mixing absentee votes with votes at a meeting.

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There are carefully laid-out rules in RONR for votes by mail, for instance.

Yes, carefully laid-out rules . If the rules are not carefully followed, things can go wrong fast.

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Guest Dennis Vines

I am President of a small 97 member HOA following Robert's rules of order. Members have to be present at the meeting to vote for the Board of Directors? The Secretary emailed one half of the HOA, all the emails we have on file, with a ballot and each member has to place their name, address, signature on the ballot, but none were mailed and we have several HOA owners who rent their income properties that know nothing about the election. We placed a sign at the entrance to the HOA 30 days before the election meeting, and emailed half the owners, is that enough or do we have to send a mailing out to all owners? To me, it seems like people who do not have a computer, old people not able to go to a meeting are being eliminated and not allowed to vote, which to me feels wrong or that it should be against Robert's Rules of Order? It just just seems logical all owners and members of the HOA should at least be included in the vote, but the Secretary says no, not acording to Robert's Rules of Order, is this true?

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Guest Edgar

It just just seems logical all owners and members of the HOA should at least be included in the vote, but the Secretary says no, not according to Robert's Rules of Order, is this true?

Of course not. Ask her to show you where it says what she says it says.

And, for future reference, please post your new question as a new topic. This topic is about Mr. Alexander's Blues Society.

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Members have to be present at the meeting to vote for the Board of Directors?

Yes, unless the Bylaws or applicable law provides otherwise.

We placed a sign at the entrance to the HOA 30 days before the election meeting, and emailed half the owners, is that enough or do we have to send a mailing out to all owners?

Check what your Bylaws or applicable law have to say on the subject. So far as RONR is concerned, members must be at the meeting.

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