Unfortunately, it looks as if we will still need to social distance when it’s time for our annual elections. So how do we do this practically?
In a condominium, it’s much easier than an HOA to run the election with social distancing because the procedures allow for mail-in ballots. The association must still have an in person “annual meeting” but it can be very small, with only a few people showing up while everyone else tunes in to watch live on their computer. The votes can be counted by any volunteers in attendance, or the ballots can be forwarded to counsel for the association, who, with volunteers appointed by the board in advance, can count the ballots at the attorney’s office — and everyone can watch live on their computer. It really is no big deal.
It’s more complicated in an HOA however, because typically HOAs don’t follow the same election procedures that condos do. Ballots are not mailed in. People must vote in person, after nominations are taken from the floor. And, after nominations are taken from the floor, parcel owners are then given a ballot and asked to write in the names of the candidates of their choice. How can nominations be taken from the floor if people are afraid to go to “the floor?” How can we distribute paper ballots to people who are logged on by the computer? The truth is….we can’t.
So for HOAs who have real concerns that their election process will be tainted because it’s impossible to comply with the procedural election requirements of their bylaws, I have a suggestion. AMEND YOUR BYLAWS AND DO IT NOW. I always thought the HOA election process stinks and that the condo statute is far superior. Well, now is a perfect time to convince your community that if they want fair elections to occur in their community and that will allow them to vote from home during a pandemic, their docs need amending now.