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Board Elections Keeping Them Fair and Transparent

Elections are a complicated process. From voting to counting ballots, avoiding even the possibility of fraud...the involvement of Russia…um, wait a minute. We’re getting ahead of ourselves here. In the context of a homeowners’ association or condo building, electing —or re-electing—a board is probably one of the most important exercises resident owners can engage in on behalf of their community. After all, board members are the ones who make the crucial decisions about how their building is run, from maintenance schedules to major capital improvements. 

Most board members are elected by their neighbors. For example, Mr. Smith runs for a spot on the board, and residents like Mrs. Jones vote for him. However, the process often raises questions among candidates and voting residents alike about what the proper procedures are, when everyone must be notified of an upcoming election, and the use of proxy ballots. While the process may seem complicated at times, it doesn’t have to be. Let’s break it down.

First Steps

First, the election for the board of directors or board of managers is generally held at the annual meeting for the corporation of condominiums. “Each community will need to follow their state statutes and governing documents, such as the bylaws, as we have seen some documents even call for a semi-annual election,” says Ruth Ingoldsby of Vote HOA Now in Tigard, Oregon. “Ultimately the board has a fiduciary duty to the association, which includes doing what is necessary to have a fair election.”  

An election process also differs from region to region and state to state. Some buildings use paper ballots, while others use online voting. Choosing the election method depends on the building and, of course, their bylaws. However, it seems that many boards are changing their voting to online-only and getting rid of paper altogether. “Florida, for example, has already changed their bylaws to go online, but their statute is much different than New York voting,” says Linda Gibbs, President of the Floral Park, New York-based Honest Ballot Association, which handles private elections all over the country with condos, co-ops, and associations. “So many people that want to vote need to vote, and yet they don’t have the opportunity, like homebound residents. However, nowadays, the elderly are using Skype or using their phones.”

A Florida board wishing to implement online voting must have the owners’ consent, and have a method to verify the identity of the voters and ensure the secrecy of election ballots,” says Lisa Magill, Of Counsel at Kaye Bender Rembaum, which has offices in Pompano Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. They must then test the system at least 14 days before the election, ensuring that owners’ computers, smartphones or other devices can communicate directly with the tabulation system. According to Magill, whatever system is used, it must authenticate the voter’s identity, ensure that the vote wasn’t modified or altered in transit, give a receipt to the voter, separate the identity of the voter from the vote itself, and keep the actual votes accessible for future inspections or audits.

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9 Comments

  • At my condo board’s annual meeting the board refused to hold elections because there was not a quorum of unit owners present, so the board appointed themselves for another year. I am told they have been doing this for years. What can be done?
  • I am also very interested in a response to a board appointing themselves because of a lack of quorum. Especially when the board is mismanaging funds.
  • Same question here as well, Board appointed themselves for one more year, they claim majority of mail in votes did not include a proxy, and therefore were invalid. Meeting was cancelled. One vote short of what was required. There was not enough votes to continue. So the old board remains for one more year.
  • Can the HOA set a requirement for a valid photo ID for annual meeting/election, 2 days before the election?
  • A retiring Condo Board member sent a letter with the election ballots promoting the re-election of a current board member. Is this legal in Florida?
  • Myself and two other residents sent out our candidacy paper to run for the board 2020 election but they said the papers got there late. I am currently on the board which the minimum are 3 maximum 7 only 4 people are on the ballot and now we will depend on the quorum for the election to happen. If it happens I will be out but nobody else became candidate except for myself 2 more and the other four on the ballot. The new board will have to pic the three of us to fill the seats?
  • Myself and two other residents sent out our candidacy paper to run for the board 2020 election but they said the papers got there late. I am currently on the board which the minimum are 3 maximum 7 only 4 people are on the ballot and now we will depend on the quorum for the election to happen. If it happens I will be out but nobody else became candidate except for myself 2 more and the other four on the ballot. The new board will have to pic the three of us to fill the seats?
  • We just held our annual election. There were 3 vacancies at the time of the 1st Notice of Annual Meeting. Shortly after our President resigned making now 4 vacancies. There were 8 candidates running. When each candidate completed the Intent to Run form there was nothing on the form noting if we were running for the 3 year term or the 1 year term, per out Bylaws. The General Manager noted this error in the 2nd Notice stating the higher number of votes would determine who took the two 3 year terms and on down. Since the candidates never stated which term they were running for it was accepted at the time of election based on who had the most votes and on down none of the newly elected Board members contested the election. There is a small group that is contesting the election. By not stating the term each candidate was running for make the election invalid even though a statement was made in the 2nd Notice of Annual Meeting as to how the vote would determine terms?
  • On Candidates Night, there were 4 people running for 3 spots. # were incumbents and the Treasurer was the Chair of Committee and helped put together the Committee and choice of Questions. In there very own Committee Mtg. notes, they were to ask questions to all but allowing 2 to respond. The 4th Canditate was a 4 term member of the Board and one of the Founding Members of the Board. Come that night about 90% of the questions asked were directed solely aimed at the 4th candidate. Is this a fidiciary responsibility of the sitting Board to make this a FAIR Election.