This month’s column is dedicated exclusively to the upcoming BCBA election. As some of you are already aware, within two weeks of starting my term as this Association’s President, I contacted Supervisor of Elections (“SOE”) Lori Scott and inquired as to the feasibility of outsourcing our annual elections to the SOE for a number of reasons: (1) to completely guarantee voter privacy; (2) to reduce the ongoing logistical burden on the Association; (3) to add greater transparency as to the elections process; (4) to ensure machine precision in tabulating results; and (5) to better standardize the elections process from year to year.
The SOE is handling the entire process in a manner compliant with both our bylaws and with statewide uniform ballot rules. More specifically, this election will be handled by the SOE exactly as the SOE handles mail-in ballots during a routine election for governmental positions. The one and only difference between the manner in which the SOE is handling this election as opposed to a governmental election is that the SOE does not have voter signatures on file with which to compare the signatures on the outside of the envelopes containing ballots. However, you still must sign and date the return envelope (not the ballot) just as you would in any governmental mail-in / absentee election. The ballots will be treated with the same care and handled by the same employees who process ballots in governmental elections.
This year marks the first year in which BCBA members will not have to sign their actual ballots, a past requirement unpopular enough as to have generated negative commentary from attorneys and judges, alike. This particular requirement did nothing to increase voter participation and, if anything, may have stifled it. To that end, this year marks the first year in which no employee, officer, or director of the Association will even be in the same room as submitted ballots when they are received and tallied.
This year, our Executive Director will have spent the least amount of time formatting ballots, mailing ballots, receiving ballots, and tallying ballots during her entire tenure with us. For the first time ever, this avoids requiring Terrie to choose between working overtime or temporarily putting aside her other duties to allow for sufficient time to work on election issues. What’s more is that the SOE is charging us nothing for the time their employees put into this process. They are making absolutely naught from us and are assisting us solely as an effort at community outreach in order to generate goodwill. Our only costs are their actual costs: paper, printing, and postage. There is no markup whatsoever. This election appears on track to be our least costly election in at least the past several years.
The ballots are the typical Scantron style that all of us will recognize. Please review the sample ballot included with this column. Ballots will be machine read and the only human tallying that could occur is if voters decide to fill in one or more write-in candidates. There will be write-in options available for all officer positions: President-Elect, Treasurer, and Secretary. There will not be an option to write-in candidates for a director position. Due to members being permitted to vote for up to eight directors, the SOE advised it would be logistically impracticable to allow for write-ins in that particular race.
Your address on file with the Association, as of May 5, was the address sent to the SOE for use in conducting the election. To further protect member privacy, I personally advised the SOE that the member address list provided may contain information exempt from disclosure pursuant to §119.071, Fla. Stat.
Ballots will be mailed on Tuesday, May 16th, from Ft. Myers, where they will be printed, folded, inserted, and posted. You should receive your ballot that same week.
Should you need to obtain a replacement ballot, you must contact the SOE in order to obtain one. The Association is not in possession of ballots and cannot request a replacement on your behalf. In order to obtain a replacement ballot, you must direct your request via email to: BrevardBarElection@VoteBrevard.com. The deadline to request a replacement ballot is May 23.
You may mail your ballot back to the SOE using the enclosed self-addressed envelope after signing and dating the envelope. Please note that the return envelope does not have postage pre-applied. The SOE recommends that you allow 3 to 5 delivery days for return.
Should you wish, as an alternative to mailing, you may drop your ballot off at any of the four SOE administrative offices (Titusville, Viera, Melbourne, or Palm Bay). Ballots must be received by the SOE by noon on Wednesday, May 31. In prior years, the Association had ballot deadlines based upon postmark date. This is no longer the case, as the SOE is standardizing our election and handling it as they do governmental elections. If your ballot is not received by the SOE by noon on Wednesday, May 31, it will not be tallied.
As tabulation is electronic, results will be provided to the Association the day after voting closes. Based upon the tabulation of the SOE, as required by our bylaws, Secretary Phil Zies will determine the election results and I will certify Phil’s determination. President-Elect Michelle Studstill will then reach out to congratulate those elected prior to the results being announced to the Association as a whole.
Though the ballots will be retained by the SOE in accordance with Florida Record Retention law, please be advised that these ballots will not contain your name and they will not contain your signature.
The Association thanks and acknowledges Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott, Chief Deputy Supervisor of Elections Tim Bobanic, and SOE Outreach Coordinator Jessica Santamaria, all of whom have been invaluable in facilitating this beneficial transition for the Association.