With the increasing prevalence of HOAs in Arizona, community association legislation is being modified to better address homeowner rights and processes. The changes come into effect Aug 6, 2016, and one regulation specifically addresses electronic voting. This has led to several questions about how ElectionBuddy will work within the new guidelines so we’re providing a high-level summary for each requirement.

HB2592 is being added to the Arizona Nonprofit Corporation Act, and specifies that a nonprofit corporation may conduct a vote by electronic means, so long as the online voting system meets all of the following requirements:

1. Authenticates the member’s identity

ElectionBuddy can verify identity in two different ways:

2. Authenticates the validity of each electronic vote to ensure that the vote is not altered in transit

ElectionBuddy takes vote security extremely seriously. Ballots are encrypted using SSL encryption (the same security and encryption banks use). SSL encryption means the vote information does not go out over the internet, but is instead transmitted from the web browser to an SSL-secured server. There is no opportunity for data to be edited, tampered with or corrupted in this process. ElectionBuddy is also PCI-compliant, the defacto standard for online financial transactions, meaning our site has passed all scans and audits for any security vulnerabilities.

3. Transmits a receipt to each member who casts an electronic vote

After each member casts their ballot via ElectionBuddy, they’ll arrive at a verification screen to review their votes before submitting. Once they submit, a message will be displayed that confirms their electronic ballot has been received. Members are free to print this and/or the verification screen as receipt of their submission. If emailed receipts are preferred by your association, please let your ElectionBuddy representative know.

4. Stores electronic votes for recount, inspection and review purposes

Votes are stored within ElectionBuddy for up to 7 years, after which they are automatically destroyed. If the association wishes to manually destroy votes, they can do so at any time before the 7-year terminus. Administrators in ElectionBuddy have total control over what information may be shared or destroyed.

Each of the above regulations comes with its own set of questions and concerns, more than we can address here. If you’d like to discuss any of these further, feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to help.

If you’d like to read more about the changes, this document from Shaw & Lines law firm may be helpful.

If you’re new to electronic voting and want to see how it can work for you, visit our site to learn more or create a free trial account.

Whether it’s a stray cat terrorizing garbage cans, noisy and nosy neighbors or getting residents to pay monthly condo fees, being an elected member of a condominium board can be both exhilarating and exhausting.

If you sit on your condo board, give yourself a pat on the back. It’s a tough job when you have to be the bad guy or deliver bad news to your fellow residents.

Here are some tips we’ve taken from ElectionBuddy users that will make your job easier:

Check out our information on how online elections can help Homeowner and Condominium Associations.

Chicago is a city rich in condominiums and associations. Condominium associations in the state of Illinois can either be governed by the Illinois Condominium Property Act or that and the Illinois General Not-For-Profit Corporation Act should your condominium association be also a not-for-profit corporation. In event of conflict, the Property Act will supersede.

Illinois Condominium Property Act

The Illinois Condominium Property Act sets forth the procedures that associations need to implement when running an election. Prior to an Annual Meeting at which the Board Members are elected, the Board is required to send notice to all Owners advising the date, time, and place of the upcoming election.  In addition, it is generally common practice to request names of those Owners that are interested in running for the Board of Directors at the meeting.  Once the Board has the name of the Directors that are interested in running, a proxy or absentee ballot should be mailed to all Owners setting forth all known candidates.

The quorum for your Annual Meeting should be specified in the By-Laws.  If you reside in a condominium association of 20 or more units, quorum shall be twenty (20%) percent unless the Owners have voted to increase the quorum requirement.  If you reside in an association with less than 20 units, you need to check your governing documents for the quorum requirements.  If you reside in a townhouse or homeowners association, your quorum requirement will depend on your governing documents.

If you would like to learn how ElectionBuddy can ease the election of new board of directors in Illinois condominiums, I invite you to read the following article: How Online Elections Can Help Condominium Boards in the United States

San Francisco is another city that has seen a major boom in condominium construction over the past 10 years. Styles can range from refurbished early 20th century Victorian-inspired low-rises to major modern condo towers in the downtown area. Condominiums in the state of California are run by Homeowners Associations and governed under the California Civil Code.

The Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act

This is the name of the portion of the California Civil code that governs condominiums, cooperative, and planned unit development communities in California.

In the result of election, the Board of Directors must appoint an independent third party to act as an inspector of the election. The inspector(s) is responsible for determining the number of homeowners are entitled to vote and the voting power of each, receive and tabulate the votes, among other things.

The act sets forth a very strict procedure in which the ballot is cast, involving a mail-in ballot method. Failure to follow election procedure as adopted by the association will invalidate the ballot and the homeowner’s vote. The reason why voting is done in advance and by mail is to eliminate the need of proxy votes.

You can read the full act here. Section §1363.03 deals specifically with elections. You can also read this article on Homeowners Associations Election Law, from the California Association of Homeowners Associations. It provides a good understanding of all of the election procedures.

To read about how online elections can help Homeowners Association in the state of California, we invite you to read his article on ElectionBuddy and HOAs.

Continuing on with our condominium blog series, we head all the way Wild West – Seattle, WA. OK, maybe not so wild… I hear Seattlites are very laid back. Their condominium market, however, has dipped in recent years. In July 2010, the average condo in Seattle cost $290,000. In July 2011, that price has dropped to $255,000. Condo sales has fallen by 6% in that same time period.

Washington Condominium Act

Similar to most states condominium acts, there needs to be a quorum in order to conduct a meeting and an election for board of directors. In Washington, at least 25% of the allocated votes need to be present for an election to begin. Building and zone by-laws set forth the rules of how votes are divided among the owners.

An interesting law for Washington is in the case of multiple owners owning a unit, yet only one of them showing up to an election. If only one owner shows, then that person is entitled to cast all of the votes allocated to that unit or can be given a proxy vote by the other owner.

Click here to read the full Condominium act for the State of Washington.

If you would like to learn how ElectionBuddy can ease the election of new board of directors in Seattle condominiums, I invite you to read the following article: How Online Elections Can Help Condominium Boards in the United States

Like New York City, Miami is another major metropolitan area that has seen a boom in condominiums over the last decade. So let’s take a look at condominium board elections in the state of Florida.

The State of Florida Condominium Act

Elections in the State of Florida must be done by secret ballot, however if the number of vacancies equals or exceeds the number of candidates, no election is required. Yearly elections are also required for board members, if there are no provisions in the city bylaws for terms of the members of the board. If Miami, there is none.

Members of the board can either be elected by written ballot or voting machine. Unlike New York, proxies are not allowed in any election relating to condominiums. Votes are tabulated either on a “one vote per unit” or on a weighted percentage basis as stated in the condo documents.

The act has very clear rules on the style of voting as well:

Elections shall be decided by a plurality of those ballots cast. There shall be no quorum requirement; however, at least 20 percent of the eligible voters must cast a ballot in order to have a valid election of members of the board.

To read the full Florida condominium act, click here.

To learn how ElectionBuddy can help the State of Florida’s condominiums during election season, please take a look at this article.

Ah, the city that never sleeps! Two of my favorite memories from a family road trip to the North Eastern states a few years ago took place in New York:

  1. Seeing the Dave Matthews Band walk outside of the Peninsula Hotel, adjacent to Central Park.
  2. Watching the Blue Jays face the Yankees at the old Yankee Stadium (even if the first scalper sold us tainted tickets! Only in New York…)

But I digress…

As previously outlined in the article on Condominium Boards in the United States from last week, we will do a feature on some of the major metro areas in the US and what their condominium acts say in regards to elections. Today we start with New York.

Condominium Elections in New York

New York bylaws state the each board of director must be re-elected annually. Their elections can be staggered throughout the year, or done all at once. Regardless, they must be announced at least three months in advance.

If you have an uncontested elections (ie. only one per running), then you can have a voice vote, where owners can simply voice “Yay” or “Nay”. If there are multiple candidates then often an independent election tabulation firm is brought in to calculate the ballots. If you view this Q&A with NY condo experts, you can scroll down to the bottom and read a bit with Linda Gibbs, executive director of the Honest Ballot Association. She mentions that she helps make sure the meetings get a quorum to conduct the vote. The interviewer says that he’s heard of board offering door prizes and raffles, coffee, and cake to get people to show up. I’m reading this and I can’t help but think “If only there was another method of conducting an election to ensure voter turnout!

If you would like to learn about how online elections can help New York condominiums elect new board members, click here.

This past spring we looked at the different condominium board election processes across the Canadian Provinces. Over the next few weeks, I want to focus on the country south of the 49th parallel and take a look at the condominium board election process in the United States.

In the past few years, the condominium industry has boomed, particularly in major metro areas including New York City, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago, and Seattle. And it is in those cities that we will look at the state condominium by-laws regarding condo elections. While many communities will still have homeowner associations with their own rules and regulations, there is usually a condominium act that they must adhere to.

The Uniform Condominium Act

Many states have adopted the Uniform Condominium Act, instead of writing their act in regards to condominiums.

For elections, sometimes unit owners will operate on a one vote per unit basis, and other times there will be a weighted voting system put into effect. For example, in an election for a new Board of Directors, each unit owner will have an equal vote. However, on matters concerning ratification of the common expense budget, where the commercial unit owners paid a much larger share than their proportion of the total units, the vote of commercial unit owners would be increased to 3 times the number of votes the residential owners held.

Why Online Elections Help Condominium Boards

  1. It shows that you care about your owners and tenants. Using online election software is a sign of modernity and helps increase voter turnout, due to ease of use. Most condo by-laws mandate a quora of at least 51% of owners be present at a meeting to conduct a vote, so by doing it online, you can surely reach that number.
  2. Security and confidentiality. Any election that can impact someone’s life needs to be secure. Condominiums can have a lot of  families, and decisions that board makes directly impacts their lives. ElectionBuddy uses 256 bit encryption – the same security major banks rely on to keep you data safe in transit.
  3. Not everyone is familiar with candidates for a condo board. These aren’t elections that involve a whole lot of campaigning. That’s why ElectionBuddy offers the ability to add candidate profiles. This way voters can know exactly who they are casting a ballot for. If you would to learn more about adding candidate biographies, click here to read an article on the feature.
  4. It’s tidy. Seriously. Paper ballots can get tidy and lead to tampering. As previously stated, online elections are very secure and organized. Don’t believe me? Try ElectionBuddy for yourself. It’s free to sign up, and free for elections under 20 voters.!

What’s the voting process like in your condominium? Have you tried online elections yet? Feel free to reach out to us at support@electionbuddy.com.

A homeowners association is a corporation formed by a real estate developer for the purpose of marketing, managing, and selling of homes and lots in a residential subdivision.. In almost all states in the USA, they are  are non-profit corporations, with their members being shareholders. Like most associations, they need elections… this is where ElectionBuddy comes in ; ). Whether that be electing new officers, or passing motions that are outlined in the by-laws, ElectionBuddy could be the perfect solution for Homeowner Associations.

Homeowners Associations are becoming increasingly more popular in the USA. In fact, common-interest developments (CIDs) are the fastest growing form in of housing in the USA (source), so the need of governing bodies are needed now more than ever.

HOA Elections

As per by-laws, elections are usually held annually, where budget, positions, projects and changes to rules are call considered for review. Many states require a specific time of notifying homeowners beforehand, so they have time to familiarize them selves with all of the candidates and issues.

Similarly to Condominium Board elections, votes may be weighted in terms of the size of property or the percentage of the whole that an individual owns. Like many corporations, members may assign their right to vote, or “proxy,” to another member who will be present at the election. A quorum,often 51 percent or two-thirds of the total membership is necessary to conduct an election.

How Online Elections Can Help HOAs

  1. When it comes to elections, members are going to want a quick and painless way of voting. A HOA member can setup an ElectionBuddy election within a matter of minutes, and distribute a unique voting link to each eligible voter. Very little setup time is required on the organizer’s behalf and voters can vote right from their Email inbox!
  2. Confidentiality is key to any successful election, by using a piece of online election software, it reduces the chance of voter fraud. with ElectionBuddy, we use a 256-bit encryption, which is the same security your bank will use to keep your data safe in transit. Ballots are also sent by email, ensuring the voter is the only person with access to their vote.
  3. Candidate biographies, are a major benefit of using online elections. Voters get a chance to do first-time, or last minute research on the candidate. With each description being the same length in characters, the vote is getting a fair and accurate description of each candidate.
  4. It all comes back to having a direct line of communication. Using online elections, is not only a demonstration of modernity, but it’s a sign that the an association cares about making the voting process easy for the tenants.

What’s the election process for your Homeowners Association? Feel free to share your experience with us on support@electionbuddy.com.

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