This is a story about John and Jane. John lives in a condominium in Miami and Jane lines in an H.O.A. in Central Florida. Election season is approaching quickly in both of their communities. While it may seem at first glance that all things are equal…….that is certainly not the case.
The election in John’s condominium runs relatively smooth from year to year. The manager sends out a notice at least 60 days before the election asking everyone if they would like to run for the Board. The unit owners must respond in writing. They can even choose to submit a resume about themselves. The manager then prepares the ballots and they get mailed to everyone in the community. On the night of the election, the signatures of the voters are verified, the votes are counted, and as long as 20% of the eligible voters participated, the new Board members assume their new roles. A relatively painless process.
Jane, on the other hand, has no idea who is running for the Board of Directors in her community. In fact, she probably won’t know until the night of the election. All she does know is that people are knocking on her doors asking for her proxy if she won’t be able to make it on the night of the election meeting. John doesn’t have to worry about his neighbors wanting his proxy. In a condo, you can’t vote by proxy anyway. The truth is….Jane has even tried to get on the Board before. Although she had the backing of a bunch of people in the community, the annual election didn’t even happen two years ago because 30% of the owners (a quorum) did not show up for the meeting. So yet again, for what seemed like the hundredth year in a row, the same Board of Directors rolled over for another year. Jane is convinced that this just makes the owners even more apathetic to get involved. She does remember a time when enough people showed up to have an election. It was a fiasco and took forever. People were being nominated from the floor. Others came in carrying dozens of proxies and got to vote for their neighbors, ballots were being exchanged for the proxies, voting took place at the meeting instead of in advance of the meeting and fighting and screaming raged on and on into the wee hours.
Don’t get me wrong, two years ago 15% of the owners in John’s condominium didn’t trust the process and wanted a third party to administer their election. They got together and signed a petition asking the Florida Condominium Ombudsman’s Office to administer the election. They did, and ran the election without a hitch. Of course Jane lives in an HOA, so she can’t get the help of an independent Ombudsman to assist in her election.
Jane is thinking about moving to a condominium, where she hopes to serve as President one day. She’s deciding to first wait and see if the legislation proposed by Cyber Citizens for Justice gets passed this legislative session that requires HOAs to adopt the condominium election process. She’s urging everyone to support it and to visit www.hoareformbill.net for more information.
So HOA members ….what do you think? Are you happy with the election procedures in your HOA? Or…would you like to see the HOA laws amended to duplicate the voting process in condominiums and even allow for an Ombudsdsman?