Contributed by Denise Lash, Esq.
Board members, community association managers, and homeowners have been forced to fundamentally change how they conduct business during the COVID-19 pandemic. Holding on-site meetings is no longer feasible nor is expecting residents to cast their vote in person; both activities are simply too risky in this current state. Fortunately, the solution to these challenges already exists in the form of electronic voting.
In my experience, homeowner participation dramatically increases thanks to electronic voting. Homeowners engage in the voting process and express their opinions because it is easy to do. All it takes is a click. The increased participation also ensures that quorum is easily obtained.
In addition, homeowners who have participated in electronic voting have high praise for it. They get to cast their vote through a secure online voting platform at their convenience and in private—free from the influence or interference of others.
Boards and community managers motivated to serve in the best interests of their communities also have embraced online voting and welcome the accountability that comes with increased participation.
None of this should come as any surprise. Homeowners expect the same seamless and easy-to-use digital experience in community association living as they do in other areas of their lives. The very notion that an owner should need to use a proxy to give someone else the right to cast a vote on their behalf seems like a holdover from a different era.
It’s easy to see why even before the pandemic, electronic voting was the norm in over half the states in the U.S. and gaining more traction. Arizona and Florida have passed legislation that prohibits proxy voting, and other states are in the process of doing the same.
Illinois dictates that once a condominium adopts electronic voting in its rules and regulations, proxy voting is no longer allowed for board elections. New Jersey recently allowed condos to use electronic voting and, at the same time, passed a law that prohibits condos from offering proxies to owners unless they also allow them to cast absentee ballots.
The COVID-19 pandemic is showing us that electronic voting is both the present and the future, and in the best interest of community associations.
What has been your experience with electronic voting? Comment below.
Denise Lash is founder and principal of Lash Condo Law in Toronto and a principal of CondoVoter, which provides services for electronic voting and virtual meetings. She also is a founding member and past president of CAI’s Canada Chapter.
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