Petition Closed

Hands Off Our Woodlands Polling Place

This petition had 29 supporters


Please sign the attached petition to request the Atlantic County Board of Elections to refuse to allow moving the District 4 polling place away from our clubhouse.

EXPLANATION: 

For as long as most residents of The Woodlands Community Association can remember, perhaps more than two decades, the polling place for District 4 of Hamilton Township, Atlantic County, NJ has been located at our clubhouse at 2500 Woodland Drive, Mays Landing, NJ 08330. For general and primary elections, the clubhouse meeting room is generally used as a polling place for only two days per year.

Past boards of directors of the Association have always welcomed the presence of the polling place, as a valuable amenity for our residents and neighbors. For most of its existence as a polling place, there was never the slightest question, by the Association Board, that the clubhouse venue would be approved for use as a polling place for the following year.

But, the current Board of Directors, in an unauthorized and politically-motivated move, is attempting to force the polling place to be moved away from our clubhouse. It is possible for the polling place to even end up outside of the District entirely! This appears to be an intentional effort to disenfranchise those residents whose ability to vote depends upon the polls being nearby.

Please help stop the closure of our polling place, by The Board, by signing our petition!

FULL DETAILS:

In addition to being convenient to our residents, our clubhouse meeting room is very appropriate for this use as a polling place because: it is of adequate size; there are convenient rest rooms and a small kitchen; it has easy access and adequate parking.

Because of the open configuration of the clubhouse, the meeting room is heated and cooled, along with the office, even if the room is not in use, so only the marginal expense for lighting is saved when it is not in use. Other than cleaning the meeting room, which occurs weekly anyway, the use of the clubhouse meeting room, as a polling place, has presented no undue hardship to the Association. There has been a complete lack of any extraordinary expense; no burden on Association personnel or wear & tear on the facility; security provided by NJ State & local police at no cost to the Association; with food/refreshments for poll workers provided for free by third parties.

If it can be said that there is any interference with the Association office, it derives from the requirement of the county election board that the office not transact public business while the polling place is open. This interference is marginal, as the onsite, third-party property manager and 2-3 person staff is permitted to perform their non-public duties, in the Association office, while the polling place is open. Because the residents can no longer pay their fees at the office, and this formerly constituted the vast bulk of public business transacted at the office, the rare closure of the public window, during elections, is far less of a hardship in relation to the convenience/benefit of having the District 4 polling place onsite.

The Woodlands, and neighboring Hamilton Greene (a rental community) constitute the bulk of District 4 voters. It is almost certain that the convenience of current Woodlands polling place is the reason that the voter turnout from District 4, for the last presidential election, was approximately 1,300 out of 1,600 registered voters in the District...over 80%...which is a high voter turnout on a local or national basis.

All of the above can be attested to by former members of the Association Bd. of Directors ("The Board”), and disputes the bogus reasons that the current Board is using in an unsupportable attempt to justify moving the polling place.

A "Rogue Board" and an uncaring management:

What has occurred over the past several years, is that there has been a change of a majority of the membership of The Board & its officers, and a change of day-to-day management from local staff, hired by The Board, to management by a third-party management company. As a result of this major change, certain disputes with a prior local property manage might have been resolved. But issues of a more ominous nature have arisen: There is always the danger, in any homeowners association:

• one or more members of its board of directors may gain, or attempt to gain, power over the balance of the board through various means;
• that the board may intimidate owners who disagree with the board, by uneven enforcement action against those opponents, in comparison to the membership at large;
• that decisions that require a vote of the board, or the entire membership of the association, may, instead, be forced upon the board unilaterally by the "powers that be";
• that, in effect, the board becomes what is known as a "rogue board"...working for their own interests rather than the interests of those who elected them;

• that an outside, third-party management company is hired, whose concern is more to make a profit than to manage the community assets.

Unfortunately, there is a large undercurrent among residents of The Woodlands that believe that this is exactly what has occurred with the current Association Board of Directors: It has “gone rogue”: The immediate issue is an effort by The Board, over at least the last 3 years, to move the polling place, for District 4, away from the Woodlands. Any change in the polling place will be a hardship on the electorate, many of whom are dependent upon being able to walk to the polls to vote. In effect, a change of venue would constitute a disenfranchisement of hundreds of voters. Because of the scarcity of adequate facilities within the district, there is the potential that a replacement location might not even be available within the district, which would be an even more extreme hardship to our voters.

It is believed that the full board is intimidated against defying or taking a stand that is contrary to the position of the current president of The Board. In addition, there are a number of residents that believe that the current Board is attempting to intimidate specific owners, or former board members, (those in disagreement with the president) via overly aggressive and/or uneven-handed enforcement of the Association Bylaws, fines &/or litigation. Furthermore, that undercurrent of opinion is that said president, and/or The Board as a whole, is taking actions that are solely in their own interest, rather than the Association of owners as a whole; as well as instituting policy that is the sole right of the membership, by their vote, rather than a vote or declaration of The Board on its sole initiative.

This attempt to remove The Woodlands as the District 4 polling place is objected to by a vast majority of eligible voters who reside here, though it is a case where even tenants and neighbors, usually not eligible effect any Association change of policies, have an interest in stopping these rogue actions of The Board &/or its president. As stated above, we believe that this action may only be approved by the full membership of the Association. However, for the most part, this action has been taken repeatedly without even the knowledge of most of the membership.

The specific actions of The Board include letters being sent to the Atlantic County Board of Elections, year after year, requesting that the ACBOE remove the polling place from The Woodlands. Each letter provides a different unjustified reason such as: The cost of the polling place, to the Association, is too high (though said cost is almost nil); or the clubhouse has environmental or physical issues that make it inappropriate for use (though the staff is still allowed to work there and the meeting room remains available for rental by members), etc. These letters are virtually never actually signed...though the consistent typed "RG" initials indicate that the letters have been prepared at the behest of Robert Greaney, the Board President. Mr. Greaney has, in prior years, taken it upon himself to request moving the polling place, before even telling the Board of his actions. In the most recent letter to the Atlantic County Board of Elections, the Woodlands Board attorney repeats an outright lie, that the Woodlands Board voted (at the Feb. meeting) to move the polling place. But, there is irrefutable proof that no such vote was taken at an open meeting. And, if it is later claimed that the vote was taken in executive session, that is a clear violation of NJ Open Meeting law, and our bylaws...which require all votes to be public, unless they pertain to employee issues, or confidential matters such those that pertain to delinquent owners.

Each year the county board of elections has found the reasons for the move to be trivial &/or undocumented, &/or not actually approved by the majority of those who actually possess the right to formally make such a request. But, The Board is becoming even more “rogue” and last year, in an aggressive, unilateral attempt to disenfranchise voters, the president/board actually locked the restrooms &/or cut the utilities while voting was taking place...necessitating an emergency court order, to reverse their actions, on behalf of the voters.

Based on personal knowledge that, both, the president and the management company are quite politically active, we have every reason to believe that these actions are politically motivated...especially since a very large proportion of the voting population of District 4 votes tends to vote for the opposite political party of the aforementioned "rogues".

A group of Woodlands residents are endeavoring to modify the bylaws to minimize the potential for abuse of power by The Board, to minimize the potential for individuals to gain control or power over other board members; to provide remedies against The Board or the management either enforces our Bylaws in an uneven-handed or intimidating manner; &/or to restrict a vote on, or request to, the movement of the polling place away from The Woodlands, to the membership at large, rather than The Board.

However, in the short our remedy to retain our polling place rests with the Atlantic County Board of Elections who, we believe, acts in a non-partisan manner, in the interests of the entire electorate. We humbly request that you sign the accompanying petition, which request ACBE to refuse to allow movement of the polling place.

Thank you,
HOOPP (Hands Off Our Polling Place)

 



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