While the election format in a condominium community is pretty much the same as for any other club or organization, property managers and board members are looking to make the process easier and increase unit owner participation. Unit owner participation, in particular, can be a challenge as some condos find it hard to get enough members for a quorum at their annual meetings.
To combat low attendance, some community associations are using raffles, or offering prizes—drawing names from returned ballots at the annual meeting, or combining the meeting with a cookout or other social event. Other communities with low attendance are trying to increase proxy voting. And the use of online voting is definitely trending upward as more business is conducted by computer.
It’s a Numbers Game
Serving on a condo board is voluntary, and getting owners to participate is often a challenge, industry experts agree. But at some point, participation is needed, especially when election and annual meeting times roll around. How often is that? It depends. “The number of meetings will be stated in the community’s bylaws,” says Frank Caluri, board president of Cambridge Heights at Nutley in Nutley. “A meeting per quarter is recommended.” And, he notes, there should be an annual meeting to present the budget.
Details for all aspects of the annual meeting and election will also be outlined in the bylaws. As a guideline, these rules should address the qualifications of candidates; nominating procedures; campaign procedures; qualifications for voting; the voting time period; the authenticity, validity and effect of proxies; and the methods of selecting election inspectors to handle the ballots.
“The procedural requirements for elections are set forth in a typical bylaw provision,” says Bruce Ackerman, partner and head of the corporate/commercial practice at Pashman Stein, P.C. in Hackensack. “It is typical that a specified number of days notice in advance of such meeting be spelled out, as well as who gets the notice. For example, the notice would be required to be sent to all unit owners listed with management on a date specified in the bylaws, such as the day prior to the date on which the notice is provided. The person in charge of the membership records shall provide the official list of eligible members/voters.”