RHCA Election Guidelines and Regulations


 A. Selection of Election Committee and Chairperson

  1. Appointment by Village Board.
    1. The Village Board is responsible for appointing the Election Committee before the second week in February. The Board shall fill any vacancies from time to time.
    2. The Village Board appoints the Chair of the Election Committee.
    3. Any member of the Association eligible to vote in the next election of Directors and Council Representative shall be eligible for membership on the Committee. But, in no event shall a member be a candidate for any Association office.
    4. No member of the Election Committee may actively campaign for or against any candidate.
  2. Duties and responsibilities of the Election Chair and Committee
    1. The Chair must be completely familiar with the rules and regulations of the election. The Chair works very closely with the Village Manager to insure that the By-law requirements are met and that all duties are performed. However, it is the Chair’s ultimate responsibility to the River Hill Village Board to ensure that the elections conform to the By-laws and that all deadlines as required by the By-laws are met.
    2. The Village Manager is responsible for explaining the rules and procedures of the election to all candidates and for distributing the candidate packets that are prepared by village staff.
    3. The Committee coordinates the Candidates’ Forum, and the Chair traditionally serves as moderator.
    4. The Committee, with the assistance of the Village Manager, is responsible for training poll workers, who are recruited by village staff. It is particularly important that all poll workers clearly understand how to determine voting eligibility, how to read the voters lists, and how to handle special problems.
    5. The Chair prepares, prior to Election Day, the vote-count grid for people who will be counting ballots. The Chair is also responsible for validating all “irregular” and absentee ballots.
    6. The Chair is spokesperson for the Committee and, after the election, is responsible for posting the official results, handling challenges to the election and submitting an election report to the Village Board.
  3. Qualities of Election Committee Chair
    1. With the duties and responsibilities of this position, also comes the need to handle pressure and, sometimes, confrontations with people who have personal investments in the election results. The Chair’s style of dealing fairly and authoritatively with candidates and volunteers is critical for the election to be perceived as fair.
    2. It is preferable that the Chair has previously worked on the Election Committee.

B. Schedule for Election

  1. Set Election Day
    1. The Village Manager is responsible for setting the date of the election with other Village Managers so that elections are held simultaneously throughout Columbia.
  2. Set Election Schedule
    1. The Village Manager prepares an election timetable based on the By-law requirements after the Election Day is established. This should be distributed and publicized to the Village Board, residents and Election Committee. Important dates are outlined below:
      • April: Required month for village elections
      • 2nd week of February: Appointment of Election Committee and the Chair.
      • March 1: Begin accepting nomination petitions.
      • 30 or more days prior to election: Eligibility date for members in good standing.
      • March 21: Finish accepting nomination petitions.
      • 20th to 10th day prior to election: Receive requests in writing for absentee ballots.
      • 20th to one day prior to election: Receive requests in person for absentee ballots.
      • March 25: Deadline for candidates’ statements.
      • 5 or more days prior to election: Publish candidates’ statements.
      • Midnight of day prior to election: Deadline for absentee ballots.
      • 5 days after posting of election results: Deadline for written challenges to elections.
      • 5 days after election or until disposition: Hold ballots.
      • At least two (2) days prior to the seating of the new Village Board/Council Rep: Election Committee will meet and rule on the Challenge;
        Certify election.
    2. The Village Manager will consider the need for transition time between the election of the Village Board/Council Representative and their taking office on May 1 in order to allow time for challenges to take place and for the election results to be accepted by the outgoing Village Board.

C. Nomination Petitions

  1. Preparation
    1. Each nomination petition shall show the full name and address of the candidate, his/her signature, identification of the office he / she is seeking, and space for telephone numbers.
    2. Room will be provided for ten signatures of association members.
  2. Validation
    1. Village Staff, at the direction of the Election Committee, will declare the petition valid when ten signatures have been verified as those of Association members and will collect evidence of person, age, and residence as required.
    2. Association members may sign more than one petition.

D. Election Information Packets

  1. Preparation and distribution of packets.
    1. The Village Manager, with the help of the Election Committee, is responsible for the preparation of packets for each candidate.
    2. These packets are distributed to potential candidates when they pick up their nomination petitions or upon request.
  2. Contents of information packets
    1. The information packets shall include:
      • CPRA Declaration of Covenants and By-Laws
      • Village Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws
      • Election Guidelines and Regulations
      • Election Calendar
      • Letter of Compliance Request Form
      • Other information about the village as prepared by the Village Manager e.g., The Villager current Board Member List, current budget

E. Candidates Statements

  1. Length
    1. Candidates’ official statements must be 150 words or less. All words in excess of 150 will be deleted from the statement.
    2. Candidates may be asked to supply a shorter statement for use when space will not allow printing the official statements.
  2. Publication
    1. Complete statements are published in the April issue of The Villager to fulfill By-law requirements.
    2. If the statements are reprinted in the Columbia Flier or other publications, the Village Manager will inform the candidate of any space limitations.

F. Volunteers for Election Day

    1. Recruiting
      1. The Village Manager is responsible for recruiting workers to staff the polls on Election Day.
      2. The Election Committee Chair or a delegate from the committee is responsible for the supervision of poll workers on Election Day and for answering their questions during election hours.
    2. Training
      1. Each poll worker must be specifically trained. All workers are encouraged to attend a training session before Election Day.
      2. Poll workers should be asked to arrive at least 20 minutes before their shifts begin in order to review and observe procedures. Individualized training must be provided at this time for workers who did not attend a previous session.

G. List of Eligible Voters

    1. Acquiring voters list
      1. The Village Manager is responsible for securing a list of eligible voters according to the Village By-Laws.
      2. The list of property owners shall be obtained from CA assessment computer printouts.
    2. Format of list
      1. Two lists of property owners should be available at the polls, one printed out in alphabetical order by owner, and one by address. Both are important to validate all possible ballots.

H. Regular and Absentee Ballots

  1. Preparation
    1. The Village Manager is responsible for the preparation of all ballots.
    2. The order of names on the ballot is determined by lot at a time set by the Election Committee.
  2. Absentee ballots
    1. Absentee ballots will be available as provided by the By-Laws.
    2. Only absentee ballots may be submitted by mail.
    3. The absentee ballot will contain a detachable statement signed by the member certifying that he/she will be unable to cast his/her ballot at the designated polling place and that no other member of his residence will cast a ballot at the polling place.
  3. Procedures for validating ballots
    1. a. Regular ballots will be validated during the election and after the close of the polls.
    2. Absentee ballots are validated last.


A. Voting Time and Place

  1. Location:
    Voting takes place at Claret Hall in the River Hill Village Center
  2. Hours for polls to be open:
    In order to encourage voter turnout, polls are open as determined by the Village Board at the recommendation of the Election Committee and Village Manager.
  3. Visibility and location of polling sites:
    1. Voting tables should be in a clear, obvious place, not obstructed by other special events or displays.
    2. People setting up poll sites should be aware of the electioneering boundaries.

B. Who Can Vote

  1. Residents of River Hill, including tenants with a lease on property in River Hill, aged 18 and older.
  2. Eligibility and identification
    1. A member in good standing pursuant to Article III of the Declaration of the Association shall be eligible to vote in the annual elections. The Village Board has determined that Members whose River Hill properties are in violation of the Covenants and have been accepted by the Architectural Resource Committee (ARC) for flagging, legal action, and/or restriction of facility use will not be permitted to vote for Village Board Members.
    2. A member will be considered eligible to vote if she/he can present identification showing a current address to be in the Village of River Hill.
    3. The Election Committee should publicize, along with the names and statements of candidate’s, information about who can vote and I.D. requirements in order to encourage voter turnout. The Village Board has approved the following methods of proof of person, age and residency: presence on the CA assessment rolls, tenant lists, presentation of a deed or lease, Howard County Voter registration card, Maryland Driver’s License, birth certificate, passport, utility bill addressed to the individual at a River Hill address, or other such evidence.

C. Voters Lists and Procedures for Validating Ballots at the Polls

  1. Voters lists
    1. There should be two to four poll volunteers at the polling table, each with a part of the official voters list. Clear markings should indicate which poll worker a voter should go to in order to vote.
    2. The computer printout of the property owners should be divided and one poll worker used to validate voters for each of the sections.
  2. Validation of member of the Association
    1. After showing suitable I.D., members whose names are on the voters list will be checked off by the poll worker. A ballot will then be issued to them.
    2. After showing suitable I.D. members whose names are not on the voter’s lists and there is a question about eligibility, will place their ballots in a cover envelope with their name and address on the outside, and the ballot in the envelope will be placed in the ballot box.

D. Electioneering

  1. Electioneering boundaries
    1. No electioneering is allowed within 100 feet of the polling place.
    2. Poll workers should take care to remove any electioneering handouts from the voting tables.
  2. Violations
    1. The Election Committee or a delegate is responsible for warning candidates and their representatives if they electioneer within the electioneering boundary.
    2. If a serious problem results, the Election Committee should document the violations in writing and may recommend that the Village Board invalidate the election.


A. Vote Count

  1. Setting up for the vote count
    1. Members of the Election Committee and assigned helpers shall count the ballots. The Chair is responsible for the smooth processing and counting of the ballots.
    2. The vote count shall be held in a room separate from post-election socializing.
    3. Candidates (or their representative) are permitted to be present in the counting room but they may not verbally question the counting or any other election procedures. If they have any objections to the procedures, they must submit a written challenge.
  2. Preparation and validation of ballots
    1. All ballots will first be scanned to be sure none has more votes cast than slots available for the Village Board, and in years when the Council seat is open no more than one (1) vote cast for Columbia Council Representative. If part of the ballot is invalid, the invalid section will not be used in the count.
    2. The Chair next validates the absentee ballots. These ballots are added to the others if it can be determined that no other vote was cast for that property.
  3. Counting the ballots
    1. The ballots are counted by at least two counters.
    2. Each counter records ballots on a counting grid. The two grids are compared for accuracy. If a discrepancy exists, the ballots shall be recounted until the discrepancy is resolved.
    3. In the event of a tie for election to the position of Council Representative, or for the last position to be filled on the Board of Directors, the Election Committee shall conduct a recount of the ballots within two (2) days. Ballots shall be placed in a locked container and retained by the Chair until the recount occurs.
    4. Should a tie persist, the Village Manager will immediately notify members of the Association of the date, time, and place for a runoff election to resolve such a tie.
  4. Official election results
    1. After the ballots are counted, the Election Committee Chair posts the official election results.
    2. Only the Election Committee Chair is authorized to post, publish, announce or otherwise release the election results. The Chair also acts as the only spokesperson for the committee.
    3. The Election Committee Chair will hold ballots for five (5) days or until the disposition of any challenge.
    4. A final report providing the names of those persons elected and the offices to which they were elected, respectively, must be provided to the incumbent Board of Directors of the Association.

B. Runoff Election Procedure

  1. Hold Runoff Election
    1. The runoff election must be held within two (2) weeks after the posting of certified election results by the Election Committee.
    2. The Village Manager will notify members of the Association of the date, time, and place of the runoff election by fliers delivered to each residence.
    3. Where a tie vote occurs and the election results have been challenged, the runoff election shall take place within two (2) weeks of the disposition of the challenge.
  2. Runoff Ballots
    1. Only the names of the candidates involved in the tie will appear on the runoff election ballot.
    2. A tie vote for Council Representative, or for the last position to be filled on the Board of Directors shall not affect the results of the entire election.

C. Vote Challenge Procedure

  1. Challenge Submittal
    1. Challenges must be submitted to the Election Committee Chair within five (5) calendar days after the posting of the election results.
    2. Challenges may be submitted in writing by any candidate or a member of the Election Committee and must be signed.
  2. Challenge Disposition
    1. After receiving a challenge the committee shall meet in a public session at least two (2) days prior to the seating of the new Village Board and/or Council Representative. At this time the Committee will accept and rule on any written challenge.
    2. In the event of a challenge, the Election Committee will prepare and submit a statement of the conduct of the election to the incumbent Board of Directors.
    3. The committee is not required to consider any challenges, unless they could affect the results of the election, until after the election is certified. The committee should then evaluate the election procedures and the complaint and make recommendations in the final report of the election.