BY MAGGIE BEAMGUARD || Insider Editor
An updated vote counting process will be implemented in the upcoming Seven Lakes West Landowners Association board elections. Stan Makson offered a presentation to community members about the procedures prior to the SLWLA Board of Directors meeting on Jan. 24. The presentation and Vote Counting Process were provided in advance of the meeting.
This is the first election to take place since Moore County Superior Court Judge James Webb issued a final decision last summer in a lawsuit filed by 10 property owners against the association over claims of election irregularities and improper votes cast in 2021.
The new process acknowledges the outcome of the lawsuit in section 102.0 “Lots upon which no SLWLA dues are assessed, are not entitled to vote under a court decision rendered per the Summary Judgement Order signed on July 26, 2022 and filed on July 28, 2022, and will not be mailed ballots.”
The foreword to the Vote Counting Process states it was created with input from the Board of Directors, the Legal Affairs Committee, the Leadership Support Committee, and a retired Moore County election official. According to the document, “The overriding objective in the process design was ballot anonymity, integrity, transparency, and accountability in terms of having the ability to recreate the actual vote count should it be necessary.”
Five observers will be appointed by the board and will include an Independent Observer with no affiliation with SLWLA, a member in good standing as a Head Observer and three volunteer Observers also in good standing. Lori Staples, a Moore County Election Official and non-SLW member, has been appointed as the Independent Observer for the 2023 election. Andy de la Rocha, Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee will be the Head Observer. Volunteer observers are Stan Makson (Chair of the Leadership Support Committee), Steve Short (Chair of the Lake Committee), and Ben Benjamin (Chair of the Finance Committee).
Specific procedures for both the validation of the ballots and the counting of the ballots are outlined. The procedures also address the handling of ties for the last open position and candidate requests for a recount.
Residents can expect ballot packets to arrive by early February. They will contain one ballot with candidate elections and the proposed budget, a budget review/summary required by law, candidate bios and return envelopes with pre-printed lot numbers required for use. Ballots must be received by the Front Office by the close of business on March 16.
Makson’s summary of his presentation acknowledged the Vote Counting Process development team started with a good body of work by other committees and included key takeaways: New elements have been added to improve the process, optics that could raise skepticism have been eliminated, a protocol for the chain of ballot custody has been established and human error potential has been limited by the comprehensive ballot tally model.
The conclusion of his presentation states trust in “a SLW voting process that is specific, repeatable, transparent — designated to give SLW Members election confidence.”
Contact Maggie Beamguard at firstname.lastname@example.org.