NENA Members Vote in Crowd – Masked, Distanced at Sun Ray Cafe and Online via Zoom

Hundreds of NENA members cast ballots yesterday (3/18), online and in person, on the recall of five current NENA board members. Vote organizers, like many other neighbors, are looking after jobs and kids and other things today. All the paper ballots are still sealed in the ballot box. The online ballots are secured by Google. The necessary steps to properly unseal, tally and document the results are being taken, with an abundance of care. We expect results will be reported at some point this weekend. Interim updates will be posted here, as they become available. Thank you for your patience!

Here’s what we have seen and learned so far:

A Legal Vote

The vote was organized by dozens of NENA members and volunteers, who submitted to the NENA board, in early January, a petition with at least 134 verified member signatures, requesting a vote on the recall. That request was eventually and improperly dismissed by the current board. In such a situation, Idaho non-profit law and NENA’s bylaws allow for members to organize a meeting and hold the vote.

Proper Notice

The meeting called on March 18th for the purpose of voting on the removal of five board members was properly noticed. Written notice was delivered to 5200 North End residences and businesses, 10+ days before the vote. It was noticed in the Idaho Statesman, social media channels, this website, emails and on posters all over the neighborhood.

Online and In-person Crowds

Hundreds of North End neighbors turned out, between 4pm and 8pm on March 18th, and cast thousands of individual votes on the five separate removal questions (one for each of the five board members being considered). Via Zoom and on the patio at Sun Ray Cafe in Hyde Park, neighbors turned out and patiently waited their turn to sign in and vote. There was a steady stream of neighbors at both locations, for the full four hours. Thanks to Boise PD for monitoring, since nobody knew what to expect.

Quorum Established and Maintained

A quorum of 25 members was established and maintained, to meet requirements in the bylaws. The quorum was established across the two meeting sites, which were linked by Zoom video, before any votes were recorded. Throughout the four hours, online participants numbered 50-70 participants. A steady crowd of in-person voters streamed through the Sun Ray site. Also worth noting, a few voters had to be turned away when they couldn’t wait until the quorum was established, showed up right after we’d adjourned, or tried to vote the day after by email.

Verified and Documented Eligible Voters

Every voter’s eligibility was established by a combination of measures. Pursuant to the requirements in NENA’s bylaws, neighbors were required to show ID and/or other proof of address, and in some cases sign an affidavit attesting to their address (as is done in government elections), in order to meet the boundary and age requirements in the bylaws. Online, every voter showed their face on live video, spoke their name and address, and showed their ID on camera (up close so we could verify addresses). The online ballot contained an affidavit where voters declared, under penalty of perjury, that they were providing accurate information and understood that to do otherwise is a felony. Every voter gave written consent and asked to be included as an eligible voting member of NENA, to meet the requirements of Idaho law and NENA’s bylaws.

Data Security and Documentation

The entire voting process has been secured and documented. Online, the entire Zoom session was recorded. That video of people and IDs will not be made public, but it’s available for review by authorities, if needed. Once signed in, online voters proceeded to a Google form ballot, similar to the October election, where their information, attestation, and specific votes were submitted directly to Google, where the History function clearly shows no changes have been made to that data. At Sun Ray, all paper ballots went into a sealed ballot box, monitored by a member of the Idaho State Bar, and those handling paper ballots will be signing, under penalty of perjury, that they have conducted that counting properly.

Counting the Votes

The online votes have been given a first review. A small number of obvious duplicate votes have been set aside (without altering the original voting data spreadsheet). A few addresses need to be verified (property owners vs. residents, in most cases). The video of IDs needs to be reviewed and checked against the timestamped votes, to confirm everyone’s votes. This process is more rigorous than what was done in October’s board election.

For the in-person, paper ballots, the sealed ballot box will be unsealed, the ballots counted, and the votes tallied on recorded video. Members of the current board have been invited to attend that video session, so they can secure the counting for themselves. The paper counting process can only happen as quickly as the organizers and the current board can schedule that session. For now the box remains sealed, as shown at the end of the Zoom video recording. The unsealing and counting will be shown live and recorded on Zoom.

An Abundance of Care

We have seen an unprecedented turnout, from all across the neighborhood. Obviously many many neighbors really care about what is happening. The organizers of this vote have deep experience in the neighborhood and as NENA volunteers over many years, and are taking every possible step to conduct things as carefully, securely, transparently as possible, documenting the process, even though that makes it take longer. Meanwhile, they are also out cleaning up the neighborhood, taking down the Vote posters – and taking care of jobs, kids, and the rest of life. Updates will be posted here as soon as possible, sometime over the weekend.