Board of Directors Regular Meeting Agenda


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Meeting Date: 11/20/2013  

SUBJECT MATTER:
Receive, consider and act upon changes to the Election Procedures for The Woodlands Village Residential Design Review Committees;
FISCAL IMPACT:
BACKGROUND:
The Woodlands Township holds elections each February for Village Residential Design Review Committees in accordance with the respective Covenants and Bylaws of each entity. Administration of these elections is based on election procedures adopted by The Woodlands Township. In addition, by agreement by each of the separate Village Associations, these procedures also apply to Village Association elections. Should one or more of the Village Associations withdraw from this agreement, the agreement remains in effect for the remaining Village Associations. Changes to these procedures must be approved by The Woodlands Township Board of Directors, and the most current version serves as the governing procedures. The Village Associations will be provided notice of any adopted changes by December 1st of the year preceding the election. The current Election Procedures were adopted in November 2009 and are based on the process used for the former Community Association elections. 

Upon review of the last three February election cycles, several changes to the election procedures were proposed by staff and presented to the Election Committee. The Election Committee is made up of one appointee for each of the Residential Design Review Committees and Village Associations. The Election Committee met on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, and approved the following proposed changes to the election procedures to be considered by the Township Board of Directors for implementation for the 2014 election. These changes are recommended based on a review of February elections since 2010, which was the first February election that did not include the Community Association Board of Director elections.

Primary Changes Proposed to the Election Procedures
  • Cancel Election for All Races with Unopposed Candidates
    • Would put these elections in-line with procedures for Township and other governmental election
    • An entire ballot of unopposed races may be negatively impacting voter turnout
      • Voters voice frustration when they take time to vote, but all of the candidates will already be elected despite their choice to vote or not vote
      • Because of the perception that there is no point in voting due to the history of unopposed races, voters may miss the opportunity to vote when there are contested races .
    • Would avoid people writing in names of illegitimate or uninterested parties just to fill out the slate. (See also proposed change to write-in candidates.)
    • For village associations that have multiple races on the ballot (officers and area reps), if at least one race is contested, all races for the entity will be included on the ballot (similar to Township elections), unless otherwise directed in the bylaws of the village association.

  • Set Deadline for Write in Candidates
    • Would put these elections in-line with procedures for Township and other governmental elections
    • Would end reporting of uninterested or illegitimate names
      • People often write in names of non-Woodlands residents or prank names (e.g. Current/past U.S. presidents, Disney characters, the family dog).
      • People often write in names of uninterested parties just to fill out the slate.
    • Would increase staff efficiency
      • Under the current procedures, all write-in votes must be hand-counted and reported in the election results, including those for illegitimate or uninterested parties.
      • All write-in candidates must be checked post-election to verify eligibility to serve. This includes researching any and all names regardless of perceived legitimacy.
    • Pre-registering as a write-in would allow the verification process to occur prior to the election and would prevent any superfluous names from appearing in the election results.
    • In researching past elections, no write-in candidate has ever beaten a candidate who filed by the deadline/name was pre-printed on the ballot in a race where the number of official candidates matched or exceeded the number of open positions.
    • Often, because voters have written in names of uninterested parties, even though a write-in candidate may garner enough votes to be elected to a seat, the nominee is not interested in serving. This is very common because oftentimes, due to a lack of candidates, it may only take one write-in vote to be elected to a seat. (See also cancelling elections for races with unopposed candidates)

 

  • Eliminate Curbside Voting
    • Cumbersome process that, since implementation, has never been used.
    • Absentee voting remains available to those for which this section applies

 

  • Other Minor Changes
    • Article 7 – Poll Watchers: Delete unnecessary provision related to travel between polling site and counting site
    • Article 8 – Signs, Flags and Banners: Note that in the event of conflict, Standards prevail.
    • Article 15.5 – Posting of Election Results: Eliminate physical posting of results at Township office (continue to post to website).

       
RECOMMENDATION:
Adopt revised Election Procedures for The Woodlands Village Residential Design Review Committees, to be implemented beginning with the February 2014 election process.
Attachments
Draft Election Procedures for Village Residential Design Review Committees


    

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