group battling over voter 'proxies'
By Jonathan Sidener
Article Courtesy of The Arizona Republic
July 20, 2002
|MESA - Forget the dimpled chad. The Alta
Mesa Community Association has an election dispute over something called
A group of unhappy homeowners suspects that an association board member changed the outcome of an election by abusing the process in which a homeowner directs his or her vote to a particular candidate via a proxy voter.
This group says it is being denied access to election records to prove or disprove the allegations.
But an attorney for the board says the situation is not so simple. Scottsdale attorney Joyce Kapsal said the board member denies doing anything wrong. And, Kapsal says giving the dissenters complete access to election records would infringe upon rights to a secret ballot.
The dispute in northeast Mesa underscores concerns that Arizona's quasi-governmental homeowners associations lack the clear oversight and checks and balances mandated for formal governments.
The unhappy homeowners say they have little recourse other than civil litigation.
The Alta Mesa Community Association, which has about 3,000 members, has a history of disputes. The latest flare-up revolves around a March election. The dispute has contributed to the resignation of two board members and has prompted the disgruntled homeowners to hire an attorney.
The group's suspicions center on a letter from Michael Amos explaining why he resigned from the board. Amos writes that unsuccessful incumbent candidate Janice Throckmorton told him she didn't really lose the election, but rather "gave several hundred of her proxy votes" to two other incumbent candidates, which allowed them to remain on the board. Throckmorton was later reappointed to the board to fill a vacancy.
Bart Park, a vice president with property management firm Capital Consultants Management Co., helped supervise the Alta Mesa election.
Park said there is no verification that proxy votes go where they have been directed.
"The proxy voter transposes the directions they've been given onto the ballot," Park said. "If they chose to violate the trust they've been given, they would be breaching an agreement with the homeowner. But there's no way from the standpoint of the management company to know if they've voted the way they were directed."
Throckmorton said she did not breach any of the proxy agreements.
The unhappy group wants access to election records to see whether Throckmorton redirected votes that were supposed to go to her.
The group says that a non-profit community association is required to make its records available to members upon request.
Kapsal, the board attorney, said the allegations by Amos amount to hearsay, so they do not constitute evidence of wrongdoing.
The wheels of justice grind slowly indeed.
It has been over two years since irrational decisions of board management were first brought to public attention in the many neighborhoods of Alta Mesa.
Though a campaign for free elections was mounted, it was their system of cumulative proxy voting management that brought back the same manipulative board officers.
People, who when someone disagrees with them find themselves "dismissed" (one way or another) be they corporation, service or individual.
The time has come that illegal meetings, Web site only announcements to a selective few, and a total disregard for the homeowners' best interests be made accountable to: the Corporation Commission, state open meeting laws, homeowners and the general public.