State Rep. asked to observe West Boca homeowners' election

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Chrystian Tejedor

Published October 29, 2007

 

West Boca - At first glance, nothing seemed unusual about the board elections at Mizner Pointe Thursday night.

Residents filed into the clubhouse, showed a picture ID and cast their ballot. They waited patiently for the results, with some sitting on plastic folding chairs or walking out to smoke a cigarette.

The one difference was that State Rep. Kelly Skidmore, a Democrat whose district includes Mizner Pointe, was there to observe the election.

Resident Deborah Kamenash, who invited Skidmore, said that in 2006, votes were thrown out on technicalities. Along with board member Robert Greene, she worried that the formatting of the current ballot could have led residents to sign in the wrong place, possibly negating their vote.

Marvin Kaplan, who was president during the 2006 election, refuted their claims. He said voting results have never been challenged in eight years.

It's the first time in recent memory that a state representative in the area has been asked to observe a homeowners' association election, Skidmore and a local professor said.

Instead, associations have in some cases turned to police departments to help ensure a peaceful process, said Kevin Wagner, an assistant professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University.

And in at least three cases in the last decade, the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office has run elections for association boards.

Wagner doubted whether Skidmore would have any power at the meeting and likened her presence to a politician showing up after a disaster that it helped give citizens a sense of calm.

"Perhaps by her attending, it might make them follow the letter of the law," Wagner said.

Skidmore saw it in a similar light.

"There's really nothing I can do," she said. "[Kamenash] feels someone at the state level will prevent wrongdoing. I don't necessarily agree."

The challenge, Wagner and Skidmore said, is that homeowners' associations are mostly made up of a small group of people who are active in the community and may not have a lot of training regarding state laws that help govern associations.

Kaplan, who lost his seat Thursday night, said elections are run by the board's attorney to ensure the voting process is fair and accurate. He did not object to Skidmore's presence.

Newly elected president Kamenash and Greene said votes were thrown out in 2006 because they were hand delivered to the community's management company and not mailed in.

"It's ridiculous," Kaplan said.

Other residents said that year's election ended in an uproar.

By contrast, things seemed mundane on Thursday. Kaplan went home when the results were announced.

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