Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Published October 29, 2007
West Boca - At first
glance, nothing seemed unusual about the board elections at Mizner Pointe
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
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.