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Frank851

Absentee Ballots When a Run-Off Election is Required

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We recently held an election with 3 persons running for office.  The ballots cast in the initial vote included 3 absentee ballots and the remaining ballots from the members present.  In the initial vote no one person received a majority of the votes (50% of the votes plus 1 vote) as specified in our by-laws.   We completed a run off election and only counted the votes from the floor in the second vote, as the absentee ballots were cast for the first vote. 

Our by-laws do not specify that the absentee ballots be counted in the run-off election.  What is the correct way to handle the status of absentee votes cast when a run-off election is required.

Thank you for your response.

.

 

 

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Since absentee voting is prohibited unless your bylaws provide for it, any details regarding absentee voting would have to be provided for in your rules. RONR says that the organization should not adopt a bylaw which counts absentee votes along with votes at the meeting.

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5 hours ago, Frank851 said:

We completed a run off election and only counted the votes from the floor in the second vote, as the absentee ballots were cast for the first vote. 

Unless your bylaws provide for it, you do not have a "runoff" election with only the top vote getters. What you do, unless your own bylaws or special rules of order provide otherwise, is vote again with all candidates still on the ballot. If nobody wins on the second ballot, you keep repeating the balloting until someone finally wins. 

As an alternative, you can adopt a motion to remove one or more candidates from the next ballot, but any candidates so removed from the ballot still remain eligible to.receive write in votes and to be elected by write in votes. 

It is up to your organization to interpret your own rules and to determine whether absentee ballots should be counted in any repeat balloting or runoff, but in my opinion they should not be counted unless your rules specifically provide for it. That's the problem with mixing absentee ballots with in person ballots. 

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5 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

Unless your bylaws provide for it, you do not have a "runoff" election with only the top vote getters.

Richard, doesn't the footnote on page 441 say that this could be done by a Special Rule of Order and not only by a provision in the bylaws? I agree that only the bylaws could make other candidates ineligible, but you don't need to have it in the bylaws to allow for a runoff.

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I think what the OP's organization can not do without a specific bylaw provision is to disenfranchise the absentee voters by deciding to exclude them from any run-off election. It is not sufficient that "Our bylaws do not specify that the absentee ballots be counted in the run-off election". The bylaws must specifically state that absentee ballots will be excluded from a run-off election, otherwise any run-off would have to provide the opportunity for eligible voters to cast an absentee ballot.

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1 hour ago, Atul Kapur said:

Richard, doesn't the footnote on page 441 say that this could be done by a Special Rule of Order and not only by a provision in the bylaws? I agree that only the bylaws could make other candidates ineligible, but you don't need to have it in the bylaws to allow for a runoff.

Sort of.  A special rule could limit who appears on the (second) ballot, i.e. the two candidates with the most votes. It would not, however, prohibit write-ins. 

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1 hour ago, Bruce Lages said:

I think what the OP's organization can not do without a specific bylaw provision is to disenfranchise the absentee voters by deciding to exclude them from any run-off election. It is not sufficient that "Our bylaws do not specify that the absentee ballots be counted in the run-off election". The bylaws must specifically state that absentee ballots will be excluded from a run-off election, otherwise any run-off would have to provide the opportunity for eligible voters to cast an absentee ballot.

Assuming that absentee voting is permitted in the bylaws, I agree.  By saying that members may vote by absentee ballot, the bylaws have created a right for members to vote by absentee ballot.  

The proper method is to hold the runoff at an adjourned meeting and give members the opportunity to vote by absentee ballot.  

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23 hours ago, Frank851 said:

We recently held an election with 3 persons running for office.  The ballots cast in the initial vote included 3 absentee ballots and the remaining ballots from the members present.  In the initial vote no one person received a majority of the votes (50% of the votes plus 1 vote) as specified in our by-laws.   We completed a run off election and only counted the votes from the floor in the second vote, as the absentee ballots were cast for the first vote. 

Our by-laws do not specify that the absentee ballots be counted in the run-off election.  What is the correct way to handle the status of absentee votes cast when a run-off election is required.

Thank you for your response.

 

3

Do your bylaws call for a run-off election?  RONR does not.  It specifies a second, or subsequent ballot, but without dropping anyone from the ballot. A run-off implies that lower vote getters are dropped, and RONR says that they should not be.

There is no correct way to handle absentee ballots if a second ballot is needed because RONR strongly cautions against any voting process in which absentee ballots and in-person ballots are intermixed.  You will have to figure that out.  You could always count them again, and simply treat them as any other ballots where the voters did not change their minds.

Edited by Gary Novosielski

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11 hours ago, J. J. said:

Sort of.  A special rule could limit who appears on the (second) ballot, i.e. the two candidates with the most votes. It would not, however, prohibit write-ins. 

I didnt say that a SRO could prohibit write-ins.

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15 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

I didnt say that a SRO could prohibit write-ins.

Because write-in votes would still be legitimate, it would not be  a true "'runoff' election with only the top vote getters."  

A special rule could limit what names can appear on the ballot.   It could not limit the eligibility of anyone.

That is why I said "sort of." :)

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I may be wrong on this one but I think that once intermixed the two types of ballots can't effectively be separated. On subsequent votes, if they are counted as not changed, but a candidate drops out, wouldn't any AB's for that candidate count as write in votes for the candidate? Seems it might not change the results noticeably.

Probably one reason why RONR says not to intermix.

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5 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

I may be wrong on this one but I think that once intermixed the two types of ballots can't effectively be separated. On subsequent votes, if they are counted as not changed, but a candidate drops out, wouldn't any AB's for that candidate count as write in votes for the candidate? Seems it might not change the results noticeably.

Probably one reason why RONR says not to intermix.

I don't believe, absent a special rule, that the could be recounted.  Each round of voting in an election is effectively a different question. 

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If you have to do a re-vote (because of a tie, no majority, &c.) then ALL the voters get to cast new ballots, so be sure those not present get the opportunity.  Absentee ballots do not get "reused".

Edited by jstackpo

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31 minutes ago, Atul Kapur said:

If the candidate who they support is still on the ballot, why not allow it?

I'm not sure how I would answer that question, so I will answer it with another question: "Should the absentee ballot be counted again if the candidate has been dropped from the ballot?" In other words, should it be counted as a write-in vote for that person?

Or is it considered a different question once one or more candidates have been dropped from the ballot and therefore absentee ballots for that candidate should no longer be counted?

 Edited to add: and should it make any difference if the name is marked with an x on an absentee ballot form or if it is written in on a piece of paper? If it is written in on a piece of paper, wouldn't that be considered a write-in vote?

Edited by Richard Brown
Added last paragraph

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2 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

If the candidate who they support is still on the ballot, why not allow it?

Another possibility:  The absentees see how the first round of voting went and decide to vote for a different candidate in the second round.  The voters might see that their favored (first round) candidate is a lost cause and then vote for their second choice.

By the way... the Borda count takes care of this possibility and will obviate the necessity of multiple rounds of voting.

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3 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

A different question? I wouldn't think so.

I did use the word "effectively." 

Most other motions, especially main motions, can only be voted on once during a session (except by using a different method, or by rescind/ASPA,or reconsider).   In an election, the question may recur.  A member is "entitled to one -and only one- vote on a question (p.407, ll. 1-5)." Yet, a member may cast a vote in the first round of voting, and vote in subsequent rounds of voting in an election. For these purposes, subsequent rounds in an election behave as if each round of voting is voting on a new question.

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