Published on: October 23, 2001
An issue which often arises in the administration of condominiums is how to conduct an election in a simple manner, particularly where it is rare that a quorum is present. Unfortunately most documents require that Board Members be elected by the Owners holding fifty-one percent or more of the interest in the association. They also require there to be fifty percent or more in interest present in person or by proxy to have a quorum. Thus, in the typical situation, if a quorum isn’t present no election can be held.
One way to deal with this problem is to establish the list of candidates by some date prior to the scheduled meeting. Most documents contain no details concerning the selection of candidates. Therefore, it is perfectly proper for a Board to adopt election procedures to fill in the gaps left unaddressed by the documents.
Returning then to the procedure, you can set a date, approximately a month before the meeting when all those desiring to stand for election must submit their names, a short bio and a statement of why they wish to serve. You can also, if desired (or needed) establish a nominating committee to seek out candidates and submit a slate. If that procedure is followed you should, of course, also allow the submission of nominations by other than the nominating committee.
Some communities which use a nominating committee indicate the candidates selected by the committee. That can, however, be divisive and foster an “in/out” mentality. Thus, in my view just listing the candidates alphabetically is best, though it would be appropriate to indicate incumbents.
Once the candidates are “assembled” you can mail out a Ballot/Proxy. Many practitioners believe these should be separated and that a formal proxy be used. To my view this tends to be intimidating, and often Owners will not return the mailing. Thus, I suggest using a simple ballot with a statement at the bottom saying, “This ballot shall constitute a proxy for quorum purposes if the Owner does not attend the annual meeting scheduled for ______________.”
The mailing to the Owners asks them to submit this Ballot in advance of the meeting. Should they then attend, they have already voted. If not, you have their vote and their “presence” for quorum. To facilitate their mailing on these ballots you might want to consider enclosing a self-addressed envelope. Stamped ones would be even better.
Of course the better way to approach this problem is to amend the documents reducing (1) quorum requirements and (2) voting requirements for elections. A practical reduction is to use 40% as quorum and a majority of the meeting to elect. Unfortunately you’ll need to meet the requirements necessary to amend the documents to do this.
Another vehicle for addressing this issue is the computer. More and more people have them and are comfortable with their use. Thus, allowing both paper ballots and electronic voting can help ensure the necessary percentages.