By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Reporter
(March 23, 2023) The election debacle of 2022 continues to be a point of contention during the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) board meetings.
Significant problems with the election process in 2022 resulted in an over count of ballots, which led to a 940-vote error. The current Election Committee found that poor scanning software used in both 2021 and 2022 elections, opaque paper ballots and a lack of pre-flight testing resulted in the wrong initial count in 2022.
In the March board meeting held Saturday, the Election Committee requested the approval of two recommendations pertaining to the processes for the 2023 Board of Directors election.
The Election Committee requested permission to continue research into obtaining creditable scanning software, conduct end user testing and to hire an independent contractor to perform ballot scanning under committee visual supervision.
While board member Steve Jacobs congratulated the committee for its efforts in addressing the issues related to the paper ballots, he raised concerns about paying an outside vendor to count the ballots when there was never any evidence of a conflict of interest.
“I have no understanding of why an outside vendor is needed,” Jacobs said.
The Election Committee also asked to suspend online voting for 2023, return to paper ballots effectively used for decades and continue research to find a contractor that has an alternative “control number” solution in order to eliminate “weighting” confusion experienced by multi-lot members in the 2022 election. Projected online voting implementation is 2024.
Colette Horn countered that the Election Committee’s assertion that paper ballots have been used flawlessly for decades was unfounded.
“We’ve never looked backward at our paper ballot process to ensure that our paper ballot system was flawless. That’s a premise that doesn’t hold together,” said Horn.
She said she reviewed Election Committee meeting videos and their reports and saw no evidence that the committee provided any support to the contention that the online voting system is unable to be audited.
Frank Daly echoed Horn’s concerns. “We are left with the recommendation that we should stop electronic voting when no problems existed,” he said.
Board President Doug Parks expressed his confidence in paper balloting, but Jacobs called him on the “double standard.”
“There was no issue with electronic voting. All the problems existed in the paper ballots. That does not follow logic in any shape or form, to suggest that we should go to the tried-and-true method, when that was where the problem existed,” Jacobs said.
Daly questioned why the committee has still not been able to say how many lots voted. “The information is on the envelopes, which are still intact. Run the list of lots that voted manually and electronically. If you see my lot on both lists, you have a problem. Why has this not been done?”
Eventually, the board approved the motion to allow the Election Committee to proceed, with Horn and Jacobs voting against and Daly abstaining.