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Volume 2, Issue 2

Home Owners Associations
Volume II Issue 2
By Robert McConnell Productions
 

Introduction

Dear Homeowner,

This section is for everyone who is currently living in a homeowner’s association or thinking of buying a home which might be located in a homeowner’s association or in a development that has covenants but no association. We invite you to e-mail us with ideas that you have found helpful to improve meetings, interpret covenants, or places to go to get help with solving homeowner association problems. We will post those ideas to our page under this section. If you have a problem, e-mail us with your problem and we’ll try to help.

Robert McConnell Productions


NOMINATIONS AND ELECTIONS

We have addressed this issue on our Internet Newsletter. However, this article is specifically for Condo and Homeowner Associations. Since most associations allow proxy ballots we will discuss this in the article.

We had our election in June. I made a point of training the tellers Committee (those who count the vote), but we were not wise in the nominating committee that we chose, nor were we wise in reviewing those who were current on their assessments. We allowed everyone to vote. Because of not being alert, Janet was voted off the board. Even though we have two lots and two votes, and both can serve on the board, two of the current members didn’t like this and used the proxies to vote her out of office. The only thing we can figure is that they didn’t like the fact that she was too rule oriented.

In the May/June issue of Common Ground, published by Community Association Institute, there is an article about nominations and elections. In this article they recommend starting the nominating and election process three months before the election takes place. Look in your governing documents for when the nominating committee is to be selected and when the election is to take place. Our bylaws are very general about this.

The next thing they recommend is that you review last year’s election to see what went wrong, what went right, and what was ambiguous. See that the procedures fit the governing documents. You might also consider writing election rules – how the ballot is to be designed, marked, collected and counted. Also, how proxies fit into the scheme and who is responsible for receiving the proxies.

The article recommends that you have someone to oversee the entire process, write it down and review it with your attorney. (This organization recommends using attorneys all the time. We believe that a parliamentarian can be of great help with this process.)

In finding people to serve on the nominating committee, they recommend that those selected be neutral parties – in other words, not living or related to board members. This should not be a political appointment. This committee should be used to find the best people to nominate to the office. They recommend letting the entire community know about the nominating committee and that people are needed to serve. We did that. They also recommend having candidate forums "at which residents can discuss their concerns with candidates and find out their views on pressing community issues."
 



NOMINATING PROCEDURES

After the nominating committee is selected, they should be instructed on how to pick nominees for board positions. Many organizations have set up the board so that so many go off every year and so many stay on to ensure continuity. Our bylaws do not do that. The entire board is elected every year. This causes problems because if everyone elected is new to the board, like we had happen last year, no one knows what is going on or what problems the previous board was working through. Or worse, like in our case, those unelected might not turn over the books, the minutes or other important documents. (We had a hard time getting the new officers on the checking account because the previous members would go to the bank with us. We finally showed the minutes to the bank.)

When finding nominees the committee should be concerned about what positions are being filled. If someone on the board was the treasurer and is up for election is there another person with these skills that can take over? If other qualities are need on the board, then the committee should be instructed to find people who will bring these qualities to the board. A nominating committee should nominate the exact number of people to fill the slots. We should have gotten a clue when 8 people were nominated to fill 7 positions. If someone would have come to us and said we really don’t like both of you being on the board and we will be working on getting one of you off, we would have discussed it and decided which one of us would stay on the ballot. We were surprised about how it was done.

After the nominating committee finds nominees who will serve, they should report this to the board of directors. The directors should send these names out with a letter letting the members know when the election meeting is to be held. It should also state something about the nominees, where they live, and why they want to serve on the board. If the association is going to have candidate forums, then the members should be notified about this.

In our letter that we sent out, we also included a proxy ballot for those who would not be attending the meeting. This proxy included directions on how to fill it out and to whom to return it. Usually the proxies are returned to the secretary. This should be in the election rules of the association.

Someone should be responsible for designing a ballot and then reviewing it with the board, the parliamentarian or the attorney. The board should adopt balloting procedures and then train an impartial committee called tellers to collect and count the ballots.

The board should appoint someone to sit at the door of the meeting hall to have members sign a sheet with their names and lot number. This prepared sheet should have only those eligible to vote. Before the meeting the board should go over the names of owners and see who is not current with their assessments. These members should be notified in their notice to the meeting that they have not paid. If they wish to vote by proxy or ballot at the meeting they need to pay their assessments by a certain date. We were lax with this point. As members sign in to the meeting, the person appointed by the board should give each resident a ballot or ballots depending on how many lots owned. Each member should be instructed not to fill out the ballot until the chair tells him it is time to vote.

 


Ballot design

The ballot design should be simple, easy to read and understand for voters filling out the ballot. In the following ballot, we have all the nominees listed and a place for write in vote. You will notice that we also have a place to place a check in the front of the name of a write in vote. The chair instructed the members how to mark their ballots. Our video "Nominations and Elections" shows this procedure. We recommend that you get it so that you won’t make any mistakes.

 

BALLOT JUNE 5, 2001

CANTA RANA HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATION

Election of Board Members

Please check the name you would like to see elected to the Board of Directors. You can vote for seven people.

_______Dave Anderson

_______Dee Anne Ford

_______Penny Fox

_______Mark Grudzien

_______Janet McConnell

_______Robert McConnell

_______Ron Morris

_______Gwen Salisbury

 

WRITE –INS:

_____ 1_____________________

_____ 2______________________

_____ 3______________________

_____ 4______________________

 

This ballot was not approved by an attorney but was designed by Janet, a Registered Parliamentarian with the National Association of Parliamentarians.



PROXY BALLOT

In most associations, members can vote by proxy if they can’t attend the meeting. It is important to have the ballot for officers as a "limited proxy". This means that the member who is voting by proxy votes for the officers and not the proxy holder. If it is a general proxy, then the proxy holder votes for the officers. In a limited proxy, if there is a recount, the proxy vote will always stay the same. In a ballot vote someone can change his vote on any subsequent ballots. (Let’s say there is a tie vote for one office, then the members present keep voting until someone is elected. During these other votes, the limited proxy votes stay the same because the person who signed the proxy is not present to change his vote. Nor does the limited proxy give the proxy holder the power to change the proxy.

The following is an example of this type of ballot. The form was taken from a book by Joyce L Stephens on voting. It was adapted to fit our needs. In this limited proxy form is also a general proxy that the proxy holder could use if we voted on something besides officers. We didn’t so it wasn’t necessary. This proxy was not presented to an attorney for approval. If you want to use it please consult your attorney or a parliamentarian about it.


LIMITED PROXY FORM

KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:

The undersigned owners, or their voting representative, of lot No._______in CANTANA RANA ESTATES HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATION hereby constitute and appoint the secretary of the association, his designee, or __________________, as nominee, and proxy with powers of substitution for and in the name and place of the undersigned, to appear, represent, and cast votes only as I specifically instruct in reference to the following matters to come before the CANTA RANA ESTATES HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION INC. meeting to be held on June 5th, at 7:30pm at City Hall, in downtown Gig Harbor.

General powers (check if appropriate)

______I hereby authorize and instruct my proxy to use his best judgment on all matters which properly come before the meeting as may be authorized by Article III. Section 5. Proxies of the bylaws.

Limited powers (check if appropriate)

_____I hereby specifically authorize and instruct my proxy to cast my vote in reference to the following matters.

Election of Board Members

Please check the name you would like to see elected to the Board of Directors. You can vote for seven people.

_______Dave Anderson

_______Janet McConnell

_______Dee Anne Ford

_______Robert McConnell

_______Penny Fox

_______Ron Morris

_______Mark Grudzien

_______Gwen Salisbury

 

The undersigned ratify and confirm any and all acts and things that the proxy may do or cause to be done in the premises, whether at the meeting referred to above or at any change, adjournment, or continuation, and revoke all prior proxies previously executed.

DATED: _______________

Lot Owner__________________________

 


SUBSTITUTION OF PROXY

The undersigned, appointed as proxy above, does hereby designate ___________________________

To substitute for me in the proxy set forth above.

DATED: __________________

PROXY________________________________

(In no event shall this proxy be valid for a period longer than 90 days after the date of the meeting for which is was given.)


COUNTING THE BALLOTS

As we have learned from our presidential election of 2000 and the Florida fiasco, how the ballots are handled and counted is most important. Since most associations use proxy voting with the regular voting, counting the ballots may be challenging. Let me tell how we did it.

First, Janet trained the Tellers' Committee. She showed the section in our new video "Nominations and Elections" on counting ballot votes. This video does not include anything about proxies, but she explained that, after the tellers counted the ballots of those present, then they were to count the ballots of the proxies and record them on the Tellers' Sheet.  There is a correct way of taking the ballots out of the box, figuring out which are legal versus illegal ballots, and recording them on the Tellers' Sheet, figuring out who won and reporting it to the assembly. We highly encourage you to get our video about this so you will know how to do it. Also see our other articles on this page about this procedure.
 


TELLERS' REPORT - JUNE 5, 2001

Board of Directors – 7 members

Number of ballots cast_____________________

Number of Proxies cast____________________

Illegal ballots_____________________________

Illegal votes______________________________

Total Ballots Cast _________________________

Number to elect____________________________

 


NOMINEES Ballots PROXY TOTAL ELECTED

    Dave Anderson_______________________ _________ _____ ______
    Dee Anne Ford________________________ _________ _____ ______
    Penny Fox____________________________ _________ _____ ______
    Mark Grudzien________________________ ________ _____ ______
    Janet McConnell_______________________ ________ _____ ______
    Robert McConnell_____________________ ________ _____ ______
    Ron Morris____________________________ ________ _____ ______
    Gwen Salisbury________________________ ________ _____ ______
    ______________________________________ ________ _____ ______
    ______________________________________ ________ _____ ______

11._______________________________________ ________ _____ ______

 

Tellers

1._______________________

2._______________________

3._______________________
 


In many organizations it takes a majority to elect. In our bylaws it states that those receiving the most votes are elected.

After the ballots are collected and counted, the Chairman of the Tellers' committee should inform the secretary that the committee is ready to count the proxies. The proxies should be kept separate from the ballots collected at the meeting.

It is important that the person signing people in have the secretary check off those who have handed in proxies. If one of these people shows up at the meeting, they should be given a choice to let the proxy stand or to have the proxy return to them and given a ballot. Watch carefully that someone does not vote twice.

CONCLUSION

Every member of a Condo or Homeowner association should be diligent about protecting the nominating and election process to see that the best people get nominated and elected to this office. The members should carefully defend the democratic process in the nomination and election process. They should be alert to the subtleties of favoritism and tyranny that work in associations to perpetuate on "old boys club" and prevent rotation in office and new people from being considered for board positions.

 

Links to other realted articles:

Parliamentary Internet Newsletter, Dec., 2000 (about the Florida count & other election abuses)

Parliamentary Internet Newsletter, Jan., 2001  (about how to avoid election abuses)