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As governmental entities, homeowner associations hold regular elections to populate their boards and periodic votes on governing document amendments. The traditional method includes holding annual meetings, special meetings or ballot-by-mail. These methods are cumbersome and often expensive to pull off. Moreover, establishing a legal quorum to transact business has proven to be problematic for many HOAs due to apathy. Add to these hurdles, the challenge of providing transparent and safe voting procedures in a restrictive Covid-19 environment.
Fortunately, the internet now provides the wonderful option of electronic voting. eVoting improves efficiency, effectiveness and reduces costs associated with traditional mailing and meetings. Establishing an internet platform for voting makes huge sense. So, what are the options?
Do It Yourself. In its simplest form, electronic voting can be done easily as a DIY project using email. A ballot is attached in Word or fillable PDF form which can be emailed, completed and emailed back. The entity administrating the ballot collection merely keeps and updates a master list as ballots are received. The ballots can be stored electronically. As the deadline approaches, repeated requests can be emailed to those that have not yet responded. For the small percentage of members that don’t do email or would prefer paper, mailing a ballot with a return envelope should remain an option. The DIY option is easily pulled off by even the smallest HOAs.
Online Voting Services. A number of online options have come into being over recent years which provide automatic tallying, password protection and enhanced privacy. The system again works via email by sending a link to each member which leads to the ballot which is completed and submitted completely online. Since the process is automated, there is less chance for human error and it tracks each voter by email address and time they voted.
Who Provides Online Voting Services? There are a number of websites that offer this service which include:
The setup process is easy and priced according to the number of voters. The time has come to green the HOA voting process. But before you jump into e-voting with both feet, check your governing documents for voting requirements which sometimes require that ballots must be sent by mail. If so, the governing documents will need to be amended to allow electronic voting by an appropriate vote of the members.
If there are no such restrictions in the governing documents, the board can enact a resolution which allows and describes the process of online voting. As with any resolution, it is highly advisable for the board to circulate a draft of the resolution to the members for a review and comment period of at least 30 days. Since there is little downside and much to gain like drastically reducing cost and being able to achieve a quorum more easily, this is an amendment worth putting in place as soon as possible.
Please reach out to your TBG Team for more information.