When it comes to governing a community association, all votes are important. However, because association members often have busy schedules outside their community it can be difficult to achieve quorum at required meetings.
Voting by proxy can make it possible for associations to get a quorum and continue to conduct business as required and also allow busy members to participate in their community governance even if they cannot make a meeting.
Here is everything your HOA needs to know about proxy voting.
What is HOA Proxy Voting?
Proxy voting means that a homeowner/unit authorizes another party to represent them in an association meeting and vote on their behalf.
Specific requirements for proxy voting vary state by state and community by community, based on their governing documents.
However, here are some general things that should be considered in proxy voting forms.
- It must note the time and date of the meeting.
- The form should identify the type of meeting, such as an annual membership meeting or special meeting.
- It should specify if it is appointing another person to vote on their behalf or if the “vote” will be used to establish a quorum only.
- It must clarify that while the owner can't attend the meeting, their proxy may attend on their behalf.
HOA Proxy Representation
Experts recommend choosing another owner that you are sure will attend the meeting in person.
Oftentimes, the form may suggest one of the board members as they are highly likely to be in attendance. The association's bylaws–and sometimes in state laws–contain specific rules about who can serve as a proxy representation.
Proxies Vs. Ballots
Proxies differ from absentee ballots, a concept that tends to confuse many people, even those frequently involved with community associations.
Absentee ballots allow owners to vote via the form instead of attending the meeting.
Not all states or governing documents allow for absentee ballots, and even those that do have very specific requirements that must be followed, so it is best to consult with your association’s attorney if this is something your community is interested in.
Proxies and Bylaws
State laws differ on the specifics of how to use a proxy, as do the governing documents of community associations. Always check your community's documents before creating a proxy form.
Most proxies appoint a person to vote on the member’s behalf however they see fit at the meeting. This makes sense because they may learn information that guides their decision-making. In the case of an election, the candidates may give speeches, and the proxy holder may make the decision based on that.
On the other hand, a directed or limited proxy limits the holder to the owner's decision and vote.
This means that the member is giving direction to their proxy holder on how to vote ahead of the meeting and the proxy holder must follow it regardless of what they learn at the meeting. These are rare and vary state by state and community by community.
What Steps Should an Association Take When Using Proxy Votes?
Associations typically must accept proxies for meetings but associations should be careful to review the proxies and make sure they meet all requirements set by either state law or their governing documents.
Some of the things that associations should consider to review proxies:
- Did they use the proxy form that was mailed? If not, that doesn’t mean they can be thrown out necessarily. Typically, owners can create their own proxies as long as it meets all the requirements.
- Confirm that a proxy is not being used for a member that also in attendance.
- Typically, proxies cannot be transferred. So if John assigns a proxy to Mary. Then Mary assigns her proxies to Jason. Jason can vote for Mary but not for John. In cases like this, consulting the association’s attorney is always advised.
Who is Usually Chosen to be a Proxy Voter?
It can depend on the situation as to who is chosen to be a proxy holder. Sometimes, it will be someone who lives in the house with the homeowner, such as a roommate or adult child, or even a friend.
Other times an owner can have a lawyer or attorney make proxy votes on your behalf if you are unable to do so at a certain time.
It may make sense to ask a neighbor or friend in the community that also lives within the association to cast a vote for you if they are attending the meeting.
It is important to understand the details and requirements for proxies for your annual or special meeting.
Contact us today to learn more about improving your community’s meetings and resident engagement.