Dear Spring Run Owners,
Recently, there have been a number of questions regarding the method of voting that Spring Run uses. While it has been in place for 16 years (all Board elections, governing document amendments, and borrowing approvals) this is the first time I have ever heard so many concerns being expressed about it. But, if you allow me to take a few moments, I can help explain it and put your minds at ease. That sounds like a job for the Spring Run Blog!
Let me take you back to the days when the grill room bar was only 4 tables, Facebook had just been founded, and the Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918. Ha! Except now, Cleveland has the longest Series drought…hmm…ok…never mind. The year was 2004, and the Neighborhood Representatives were doing all the voting. Sure, they were supposed to canvass their Neighborhoods and accurately reflect the vote of their constituents. But that didn’t always happen, and the system permitted the NR to cast these votes any way they personally wished. In other words, an NR with 40 condo units could choose to cast all 40 votes for one candidate or one initiative, despite the results of their actual polling.
Now fast forward to 2006, when we built the current Grill Room Bar, Hurricane Wilma had just barreled through Spring Run’s Car Ports, and Yours Truly was hired! The Neighborhood Representatives had come to a realization that the old method for voting was kind of unfair, and sought to put the power back in the hands of the people. A popular phrase was catching on at the time…” One Door, One Vote”. There was a groundswell to incorporate that into the voting procedures. The NRs ultimately voted their own power away in order to make sure every owner’s vote counted. Following an amendment to the Declaration in 2006, and a subsequent Bylaws amendment in early 2007, the modern-day procedures for voting in SR were set. Any future attempt to change them would require an affirmative vote of 75% of the total voting membership of 847, or 635 actual votes in favor.
Every election, the ballots are sent out either in digital form to one single primary email for the unit, requiring a log-in permitting only one vote per door. We also have about 85 owners who prefer a paper ballot.
Those ballot packages have a return envelope bearing a number on the front, but no other identifiable markings. All ballots remain unread/ unopened and organized into a file of their respective Neighborhoods, until the date of the counting. Iva and Michele maintain the security and initial anonymity of all Ballots until the moment they are opened in the presence of the Controller, the GM, and the Representative for that Neighborhood. All three monitor the proceedings to ensure complete integrity in the process. The results are confirmed by the NR, who signs off on the totals, often jotting down percentages or interesting trends they might share with their constituents. I then take the vote tally sheets and enter them into an excel spreadsheet to calculate the ACTUAL votes, the UNCAST votes, and the TOTAL votes.
For 16 years, I have posted and emailed these detailed and summarized results for every election and amendment. I would get an occasional “please refresh my memory” when reminding each NR on the procedure, and those NRs usually replied, “oh right! I remember. The uncast votes are redistributed in the same percentages as the actual results in each neighborhood”. Once we quickly reviewed the procedure, all was well.
But for the benefit of the rest of our owners who have not had the opportunity to count votes in the past, or have heard rumors about how concerning this voting method is, allow me to elaborate…
In order to ensure all votes count, Spring Run’s governing documents require that “all uncast votes be redistributed back into each neighborhood in the same percentage as the actual votes cast.”
Some feel only actual votes cast should count. But a low turnout does not affect this redistribution. The percentage is the percentage. Theoretically, this could favor a larger neighborhood depending on how the vote falls, but frankly, all neighborhoods are about the same size. Even Hidden Lakes, with 182 units, is divided up into 4 separate neighborhoods with between 36-50 units each. Silver Creek has 27 units, while Willow Creek has 52. Its all fairly even, and a close analysis done once by a skeptical Board Member proved there is no discernable difference when including the uncast votes or only counting the actual votes.
There is, however, one BIG difference. Those who do not vote could have changed the result. When they don’t, it is assumed they would have followed the trend in their neighborhoods. So given all this, I feel the takeaway is that the procedure is not the issue. Not voting IS!
If you have questions regarding this procedure, I would be happy to answer them, or just to clarify some of the above. Please know that although the process may seem unorthodox, the result is the same. Thank you for voting and participating in our Community.