This is the sixth in a series of postings providing a detailed look at the governing documents for homeowners associations (HOAs). Today’s focus is on the Bylaws, which detail the internal governance of the Association.
Voting can be a highly emotional event at annual meetings. The more structure you can insert, the better at controlling contention. The following procedure will reduce allegations of results rigging:
· The management company generates delinquency reports the day of the Annual Meeting, to account for any last-minute payments. Individuals with past-due balances may opt to pay current on the evening of the meeting with certified funds
· At the time of sign-in, all eligible voters are provided a ballot
· The meeting is called to order and the President announces whether quorum has been obtained
· The President calls for three volunteers (non-Board, non-candidate) to conduct the count, which occurs while the meeting is in progress
· Those selected to count ballots relocate to the back of the meeting room. All others who wish to observe the count may do so in silence and without distraction
· The delinquency report is made available for review by the three vote counters to confirm eligibility – any ballot may be rejected due to delinquency, incomplete information, duplicate conflicting votes (i.e. two owners in a unit each completed a ballot) or suspected forgery
· All rejected ballots are set to the side. All three individuals must unanimously agree to disqualify ballots. Non-unanimous decisions may be referred to the Board to reach a conclusion
· Eligible ballots are tallied under unanimous agreement by the three volunteer counters. Those candidates receiving the most number of votes fill Board openings
· A certification page is signed and dated by the three counters. All materials are bundled and stored at management office. Owners may inspect these by making an appointment with the management company
· Prior to the conclusion of the annual meeting, a copy of the certified results is provided to the Board President for announcement. The new positions become effective upon adjournment
When it comes to elections, consider amendments that:
Permit Electronic Balloting. In the State of Georgia, explicit provisions are required to take advantage of the "Internet Age." Because of protections that need to be maintained, some aspects of the voting process may be barred from electronic messaging. Rely heavily on your legal counsel to craft the most effective language in this area.
Address Apathy. No matter the incentive provided, such as conducting a drawing for gift cards, many communities struggle to reach the most basic level of involvement (quorum). Approval of amendments is impossible in this climate, and the Association becomes the victim. One possible solution is to permit the vote to be followed by another vote utilizing certified mail. In this second round of balloting, if the homeowner fails to respond, it is considered a default approval by that owner. Again, utilize your legal counsel to create this safety net.
Next post: Making Board members more accountable!