Absentee ballot can // VOTE NO

Absentee ballot can

ThinkstockPhotos-475403304(1)Question:Our homeowners’ association documents state that a quorum for a members’ meeting is thirty percent of the membership and that the election of directors is to be held at the annual meeting. Our association states that they can follow Chapter 720 and mail out absentee ballots to be returned by the members, or a member can attend the meeting and cast their ballot in person. Is this correct? B.D. (via e-mail)

Answer: It depends. Unlike condominiums, where a uniform election procedure must be used by all associations (though condominiums of 10 or fewer units can “opt out”), HOA election procedures are primarily dictated by the bylaws. Section 720.306(9) of Florida’s Homeowners’ Association Act provides that the election of directors must be conducted in accordance with the procedures set forth in the governing documents.

Section 720.306(8)(b) of the statute provides that if the governing documents permit voting by secret ballot by the members who are not in attendance at the meeting for the election of directors, such ballots must be placed in an inner envelope with no identifying markings, and then mailed or delivered to the association in an outer envelope which bears the member’s name, lot or unit number and signature. This is essentially the state-mandated “condo election procedure.” While the statute permits HOA’s to use the “condo election procedure” for the election of directors, the procedure must be authorized in the governing documents. If it is not, the governing documents must be followed.

In my experience, many older HOA governing documents do not provide for absentee voting. Often, the documents simply just state that the election shall be held at the annual meeting. In such cases, absentee ballots are not permissible. Additionally, unlike the condominium statute, which states an election is valid as long as at least twenty percent of the units participate, in order for a homeowners’ association to conduct any business at a members’ meeting, including the election, there must be a quorum of the members present in person or by proxy. Therefore, your association may be conducting its elections improperly if the absentee ballot procedure is not authorized in your community’s governing documents.


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