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LOW Board accused of election violations

Date published: 7/29/2014

On June 18, the Lake of the Woods Association board of directors formally acknowledged that its referendum to change the covenant had failed.

One month later, the board reversed its decision and declared victory. The board's decision was declared despite warnings that some board members violated the established protocols to guarantee a fair election.

When the first ballot failed, some board members authorized a second mailing to the 1,700 members whose non-response to the first ballot counted as a "no" vote. However, the second ballot circumvented the elections committee as required by LOWA bylaws and also contained instructions not included in the first ballot--instructions that intimidated those who had not voted.

When the second ballot appeared to be failing, some board members violated the covenant by going door-to-door and harassing members who had not responded to either ballot.

Although the board was apprised that violations occurred with the second ballot, they ignored the charges, declared the referendum had passed and, before legal challenges could be made, the ballots were shredded.

On July 8, before board director Olive Kelly left on an international trip, she sent each member of the board a memo stating: "It appears that several members of this Board wish to ignore the actual results of the referendums and are determined to go ahead and amend the Articles of Incorporation and the Covenants only in those sections that passed the referendum I appeal to my fellow directors please do not act with haste. It is clear that the manner in which the Board conducted the second mailing violated the rights of all LOWA members and destroyed the transparency required for a fair election."

On July 16, at the board meeting when they declared the referendum had passed, I stated that the board was ignoring irregularities that took place during the voting process and that these violations would be made public, embarrassing the board and the community. My comments went unheeded.

For any democracy to survive, adherence to prescribed rules and transparency are essential. Clearly, in the 2014 referendum every rule in the LOWA covenant and its bylaws governing elections was violated. The board won; the members and the community lost.

The board's actions amount to a patient whose physician touched up his X-rays and declared the patient cured.

Mike Balzano