Q&A: Unfair Election Suspected

Q One of our board members has been president for many years. She runs the building on a unilateral basis, giving out very little information about the business of the condo. Unit owners have little influence because she is elected by the board, not by unit owners. When it comes to elections, she controls them. Our accounting firm runs the election. After the ballots are cast, the president (who is also one of the candidates) takes all of the ballots and mails them to the accounting firm. Is that fair? The accounting firm counts the votes, and I’m sure they do it in an honorable way, but what if the ballots have already been manipulated by the president? We want to get a fair count. Who should we go to to deal with this?

—A Voting Unit Owner

A “The New Jersey courts have held that the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (PREDFDA) requires fair and open elections for the board of directors of associations,” says Hubert C. Cutolo, Esq. of the law firm of Sodini & Spina, LLC in Edison. “Your current board must exercise their legislatively established powers in a manner that promotes the goal of fair and open elections. PREDFDA does not set forth specific guidelines that must be followed to adhere to the fair and open standard for elections. Notwithstanding the lack of specific statutory procedures for elections, your current board should strictly adhere to any procedures outlined in your governing documents. You should review the governing documents of your association to ascertain whether specific election procedures are outlined. Most governing documents contain provisions that outline a basic agenda for elections and also contain procedures such as the appointment of inspectors for elections. The appointment of neutral inspectors can help avoid charges of tampering that may occur if ‘concerned parties’ are involved in the tabulation of ballots.

“After ensuring that the current board is following any procedures outlined in governing documents, you should request that your board adopt a written policy providing for exact procedures to be followed for elections. A written policy would assist current board members in fulfilling their responsibility to hold fair and open elections. Furthermore, you should advise your current board of the reservations that you have with the current election procedures. You have a valid concern with your president, also an interested party, collecting or sending ballots to the disinterested accounting firm. Your current board should seek to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

“If your current board refuses to implement a written policy concerning elections, you may contact the Department of Community Affairs and notify them of your concern with your association’s election process. The Department of Community Affairs may assist your board in implementing an election process that is fair and open.”

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2 Comments

  • In July 2017, the NJ Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (PREDFDA) was amended to require, among other things, that no term of office on a NJ common-interest association board shall be longer than 4 years, and that nominations must be open freely to any unit owner in good standing (i.e. not delinquent in paying dues). The board may select its officers, but may not withhold or reserve elected seats from the membership. Unfortunately, asking DCA for assistance will yield little, because there is no funding for enforcement.
  • Its very sad where I live this hoa is full of trustees and board members meaning president and etc that violate share holders from allowing a person to run for trustee that missed the date the person has to have the resume and more in by.These people that are to be in these positions are there for the share holders However that is not the case what so ever.They give these figures of spending that false they hired a contractor that done work for years to are crawl spaces that was no more than a band aid. over and over .cost us to have our maintance raised much more than should be.And yet u will see a side walk run along side the place where one of these dishonest fraudulent people live and its very clear who paid for it and who did not.They refuse to give information like for insurance purposes the info that is requested and needed they even told home owners they would not hand it over to them .Why maybe becuz of the low deductable maybe they just violate a share holder to just throw their weight around it seems thats the reason they are here to do that not the true reason .We are in great need of help here we need the help of whom ever we need to help all the dishonest violating things that takes place here year after year .not to mention that the cpa foud a problem where there is over $100,0000 missing in the taxes property tax paper work.It is clear to many of us that the best interest of the people who pay maintance are not being treated fairly ,honestly and truthful in anything they are involved in we have much information that shows all these actions for a long time.We need the right help to help us have what we thought it was about when we bought in here to be surprised just what a giant lie we were handed.