Conducting Condominium Elections During COVID-19
It’s that time of year again—Election season! As many condominium associations begin preparing to hold their annual membership meeting, many are wondering how to do so safely given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Fortunately, over the past few months we have learned there are several different technologies that will allow association members to participate in annual elections from the safety of their own homes. Rather than holding the election in-person, associations should consider utilizing video conferencing providers, such as Zoom or GoToMeeting, to virtually host the election. Notice of the election will be sent out to members in the same manner as before with one exception: the physical location of the meeting will be replaced (or supplemented) with instructions to access the meeting virtually, such as a link, meeting ID and/or telephone call in number.
The pandemic also presents a great opportunity to implement electronic voting for your community (if you haven’t done so already). For condominium associations, elections of directors must be by secret ballot, voting machine and electronic voting, depending upon the specific procedures established in your association’s governing documents. The process of casting votes via written ballot will remain the same for a virtual meeting, as members will still be required to mail in or hand-deliver their ballots prior to the election time. The only difference is that members cannot stay in person to watch the counting of the votes after dropping off their ballots. For those associations who cast votes by voting machine, an alternative solution will need to be developed. In such an instance, the Board should contact the association’s attorney prior to noticing the election to ensure the meeting notices comply with Florida law.
Finally, although members will be asked to attend the election and annual meeting virtually, the association should have at least one board member, the manager and/or the election committee present on the property to count the ballots on camera so members can watch the election process virtually in a manner similar to how they would during an in-person election. Additionally, should any confused members show up to this location, the individuals present will be able to provide the members with the virtual meeting login information if necessary and collect any last-minute ballots.
The attorneys at Haber Law can help guide you through the unique process of holding your condominium election during a global pandemic.
About the Author: Kristen E. Ferrer’s practice focuses on representation of community associations, real estate law, and commercial litigation. She is also experienced in dissolution of marriage and child custody matters and has represented clients in probate proceedings, contract disputes, asset and stock purchase transactions, and corporate formation.