Here we go. It’s election time again in your community association. Year after year, we see some of the same mistakes, so let’s just review some of the laws and rules the too often get violated and may wind up causing your election to be deemed invalid in your condominium association.
How many Board members should there be?
Many associations have a range in the number of directors that are to serve on the Board. For example, at least 3, but no more than 9. Arbitration decisions have held that when the bylaws allow for such a range, there is automatically a 5 member board as that is the fall back number in the condo statute.
When is the deadline to cast your vote?
Lots of people are confused as to when is the last possible moment that they are allowed to cast their vote. Often times associations incorrectly tell their owners that no ballots will be accepted after a certain date or a certain time. The Florida Administrative Code however allows condominium unit owners the right to vote up until the time that the first envelope is opened. The association must have ballots and envelopes available at the annual meeting.
Can one unit owner collect the sealed ballots from many other owners and drop them off?
YES. One unit owner can collect from the other owners their sealed envelopes and drop them off at the meeting. Lots of owners don’t trust the system and they believe if they mail the ballots in they will get mysteriously lost. So instead, one owner will take responsibility for collecting everyone’s ballot and will be the drop-off person. Of course, each unit owner must cast their own vote.
Are Voting Certificates Necessary?
Before sending out the ballots, review your bylaws to make sure that voting certificates are or are not required. For those of you that aren’t quite sure what voting certificates are…….they are relevant to units that are owned by more than one person. The question is…..when a unit is owned by more than one person, who gets to vote for that unit? The answer is typically found in the bylaws. The bylaws often times require all of the owners of the unit to sign a voting certificate that allows one specific owner the right to cast the vote for that unit. Sometimes this is even required for husband and wife owned units.
Can the Condominium Ombudsman’s Office handle the election?
ERIC: The condo statute says that if 15% of the owners want the condo ombudsman’s office to handle the election, they sign a petition, pay a fee and the Ombudsman will send a representative to monitor and in effect handle the election. And they do a very good job at that. Of course, at the moment, HOA owners do not have this option.
Does the top vote getter automatically get to be President?
No. People are so often confused that when they run for the Board. They are not running for a particular officer position like President or Treasurer. After the Board is elected — the Board members themselves determine who are going to be the officers. You also have to check the bylaws to determine when the Board must make that decision. Often times it immediately follows the election – but other times the bylaws say something like this “organizational meeting” must occur within ten days.” So…….if your annual meeting is not noticed properly, don’t assume you can automatically have that organizational meeting on the night of the election. Finally, the Directors are allowed to vote at that organizational meeting by secret ballot for the officers. It doesn’t mean that they get to go off to some secret room in order to vote. They have to have that vote in front of everyone.
When someone wants to run for the Board, how do they let the Board know?
The Florida Administrative Code says: Written notice shall be accomplished in accordance with one or more of the following methods:
(a) By certified mail, return receipt requested, directed to the association; or
(b) By personal delivery to the association; or
(c) By regular U.S. mail, facsimile, telegram, or other method of delivery to the association.
There’s also an arbitration case out there that says, giving the notice to any Board member is sufficient, even if the instructions to the owners say give it to the manager or a specific board member only.
Here’s hoping your election goes off without a hitch.
That Most importantly……..Remember that a Board member must be certified one year before getting elected or appointed to the Board or within 90 days of actually getting elected or appointed to the board. And if they don’t….they are removed from the Board. One way of getting certified is by taking our popular Condo Craze and HOAs Board Member Certification Course that has now certified over 8,000 people all across the state.
I look forward to seeing the hundreds of you that have signed up for Wednesday’s Condo Craze Board Certification Class, Live Radio Show and Day of Education, two days from now in Orlando. Go to www.expo.condocrazeandhoas.com for more information. Our class schedule is also out for South Florida and Florida’s west coast, just go to www.condocrazeandhoas.com to register.