Getting Out the Vote Holding Fair Elections

 When it comes to running board elections in a condo or co-op community, the  biggest concern among those involved is making sure the elections are fair and  balanced and nobody has a reason to cry foul. Elections can be heated as it is,  so the voting process should run smoothly and without any hiccups. One election  tabulation company representative remembers an extremely heated election she  monitored where physical fighting even broke out. “It was bad,” she wryly recalls.  

 One of the most common problems that South Florida condos and co-ops face is  actually getting anybody on to the ballot in the first place. “There is a tremendous difficulty getting people willing to put in the time to  step forward to serve on the board. In most communities it is a fairly  thankless job, it is a volunteer position which can be very time consuming,” says Kenneth Direktor, an attorney in the West Palm Beach-based law firm of  Becker & Poliakoff. “It is also a position where you simply cannot hope to please everyone.”  

 So is the term ‘fair election’ an oxymoron? Although unfair elections—where there have been broken voting machines or improper ballot counting—make front page news like the disputed 2000 presidential election—the truth is that it’s not common for elections to be unfair, at least technically speaking. On the  other hand, it’s pretty easy to have a fair election for a co-op or condo board if these few  basic guidelines are followed.  

 Follow the Bylaws

 Check the bylaws to find out how often your elections should be held, and when.  Typically, elections are held annually. Direktor explains that according to  Florida law, the current board must give a 60-day notice of the election,  giving all those who want to run a chance to put their name on the ballot.  Following, is a mailing of the ballot to all unit owners, after which the  ballots are mailed back and tallied.  

 According to the pros, the election process is usually the same for co-op and  condo buildings. In co-ops, each shareholder is entitled to a number of votes  equal to the number of shares they own; in condos, each unit could be allocated  a number of votes equal to the percentage of common interest owned—though some condos allow unit owners to vote on a one-vote-per-unit basis.  

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