Electronic Voting And HOA's
With busy careers, lifestyles, and travel, it is a challenge for homeowners associations to keep a high level of member involvement. However, it is crucial to the success of the community to ensure everyone has a voice on issues that might arise. One method that is emerging is Electronic Voting for HOA board votes. According to HOA Management, "The number of votes impact key decisions like approval of budgets, updates to membership, and amendments of documents. Online voting allows a way of encouraging this participation without requiring physical attendance."
Key Benefits of E-Voting
- Inexpensive - According to HOA Leader, implementing electronic voting in HOA's is relatively inexpensive with a cost between $500 to $1000.
- Precise - When using electronic voting, HOA's eliminate human error. Mistakes made in manual hand counts, tallying, and duplicate ballots are essentially removed.
- Strengthens Voter Participation - By providing a convenient way to vote, member participation increases. Mobile technology allows members to vote from smartphones and tablets from anywhere.
- Eliminates Waste - The cost involved in designing, printing and mailing paper ballots are virtually eliminated unless some members opt out of E-Voting.
A study was conducted by Vote HOA Now in a recent election where they sent out 2,095 electronic invitations to vote and 73.3% of the electronic ballots (1,536) voted. For the homeowners who could not or did not want to vote electronically, a paper ballot was mailed out (366) and 20 additional ballots were handed out at the concierge desk for those who lost their ballots. They received back 198 ballots (51.3%).
Challenges of E-Voting
- Outdated Laws - Many states have outdated laws concerning electronic voting for HOA's. However, according to HOA Management, "More than 20 states have amended HOA laws so that electronic voting is allowed. Different states have different laws so it's important to talk to your Community Manager and Attorneys about the potential legality of using Electronic Voting.
- Security Concerns - Some residents may have concerns about the security of their personal information. Although security has improved over the last several years, HOA's should provide information on what is involved when members E-Vote.
- Lack of Familiarity with Issues or Candidates - If voters do not attend meetings, they may not be familiar enough with the issues or candidates on the ballot and you might not get the vote that is best for the association.
Moving Forward with E-Voting
If your board chooses to move forward with electronic voting you will want to make sure that you discuss the implications with your legal counsel. Also, you will want to check your governing documents to determine if your bylaws will allow or restrict e-votes. If your bylaws allow your members to vote electronically then your next step will be to craft a resolution with the help of your legal counsel.
Your resolution should address the procedures your association will follow, how homeowners can opt-in or opt-out of using electronic voting, and any other items that are necessary to comply with your state or your association's bylaws.
You will then want to send notices to the homeowners informing them of the board meeting at which the resolution will be considered. Assuming you received the favorable number of votes to move forward, your next step will be to evaluate different electronic voting systems. Make sure they adhere to the legal requirements, have extensive security measures in place and offer ease of use for your members.
Having active involvement by homeowners is essential for the success of a community. However, E-Voting may not be the right fit for every HOA.
RealManage can be an invaluable asset to your HOA by guiding your board toward the options that are the best fit. We offer services designed to help your association succeed. Check out one of our informational blogs, Email Communication Policies. This is just one way that we help you stay on top of the complex set of responsibilities and tasks associated with running a successful community association.