If you are like me, you will be happy when the election is over tomorrow and the nasty political ads are off the air for a couple of years. However, regardless of your party affiliation or beliefs, I hope you take the time to cast your votes and return your ballot. After all, we live in the greatest democracy on the planet and voting is at the heart of our fundamental rights.
The election also got me thinking about HOA annual meetings and the election of directors. While hopefully your HOA is drama free and every member votes, I thought this was a great time to remind boards, managers and homeowners about the requirements for utilizing secret balloting.
The Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (“CCIOA”), at C.R.S. 38-33.3-310, requires secret ballots be utilized at membership meetings under the following circumstances:
● Secret ballots must be utilized for contested positions on your board of directors. Simply put, this means secret ballots must be used when there are more folks running for the board than there are open seats. The requirement does not apply if your governing documents provide for the election of directors through delegates who cast votes on behalf of a segment of the membership.
● Secret ballots may be used at the discretion of the board of directors. Some boards like to use secret ballots for every item which is voted upon at a membership meeting. This gives members the ability to cast their vote without any perceived pressure from the board or their neighbors.
● Secret ballots must be utilized on any issue where 20% of the owners, present in person or by proxy at the meeting of the members, request use of a secret ballot on an issue.
Once votes are cast at a membership meeting by secret ballot, here’s what you need to know:
● The ballots must be counted by a neutral 3rd party or a committee of volunteers;
● If a committee of volunteers is utilized, the president of the board (or the individual presiding over the membership meeting) during the meeting should select members of the HOA to serve on the committee of volunteers. The volunteers cannot be members of the board or a candidate in a contested election for a position on the board.
While community association managers can provide administrative assistance to the committee of volunteers who are counting the votes, I don’t recommend that managers do the actual vote counting. Since some members might believe a manager has a vested interest in the outcome of the election or issues before the membership, utilizing this approach avoids any appearance of impropriety.
When the results of a vote by secret ballot are announced, the results must be reported without referencing the names, addresses or any other identifying information of the owners casting their votes.
Here’s to making all of our HOA membership meetings smooth, efficient and drama free!