By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer
Contractor would eliminate need for software, add-ons and provide total coverage
(June 1, 2023) The Ocean Pines Board of Directors agreed on May 20 to let Election Trust, a company in Washington State, handle the annual election this summer, as a board majority embraced the recommendation of the Election Committee.
The elections have been conducted by Ace Printing and Mailing, a company of Berlin for the past 18 years.
Tom Piatti, the chair of the Election Committee, said in a letter to General Manager John Viola that the committee conducted research to find a national company to perform the full array of election services. The committee specifically looked at companies that could conduct online voting, should the board move forward with that in future elections.
After researching five and disregarding three “online only” voting companies, the committee recommended awarding the contract to Election Trust. The company will be responsible for printing, mailing, receipt and counting of paper ballots. The company also offers an “observable live count” option that will allow residents to watch the ballots be counted virtually.
During the May 20 board meeting, Director Steve Jacobs reminded board members that Resolution M-06 places responsibility for counting the ballots on the committee and that it should be open to observation to those Ocean Pines members in a room large enough to accommodate the process and the association members who wish to observe the count.
OPA President Doug Parks told the board that minor adjustments to the language will allow for viewing the count virtually, adding that this approach would make it possible for even more people to watch.
By contracting with Election Trust, Piatti said, the OPA will no longer have to procure software or equipment for ballot-counting purposes. The association purchased a high-speed scanner to count ballots for the 2022 elections.
Election Trust has been in operation since 2003. It has worked with various HOAs, as well as the National Bar Association in D.C. and the Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners.
Election Trust uses the same administrative template employed for government voting, including a mail-in ballot tracker bar code ballot inventory, audit, and canvas system.
It utilizes Clear Count to digitally scan all incoming paper ballots, which can read pen ink in any color.
The process will go like this:
OPA will provide Election Trust with an eligible voter list, an ineligible voter list and the content for the election ballot by June 15.
By July 11, Election Trust will design, print, and mail to each eligible voter a ballot packet that will include a voter guide. The company will also send a letter of ineligibility to those residents not eligible to vote.
Election Trust will staff a Voter Help Desk accessible through email, phone and web chat during the election.
All paper ballots will be returned by residents through the U.S. Postal Service or a secure ballot box by Aug. 9.
On Aug. 10, Election Trust will host an observable VBM count via zoom, which will include ballot extraction, count, adjudication, and final certified results reporting.
All data and collateral will be archived for six months. After this time, all collateral materials will be shipped back to OPA for archiving.
Election Trust will provide OPA with a report that includes the number of eligible members, number of ballots received, and percent returned. It will also provide the number of votes by candidate, percent of votes received by candidate, invalid votes and number of ballots cast.