Electronic Voting for Condominiums And HOAS
In Florida at the 2015 Legislative Session, a new law was passed authorizing homeowner associations, condominiums and cooperatives to have elections and other owners vote through internet-based online voting systems. In the spring of 2016, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation adopted administrative regulations to implement the new electronic voting statutes for community associations.
The language for condominiums and cooperatives is identical, the language for homeowner associations is almost identical and only differs in that item 2 (d) having to do with secret ballots adds a line stating “This paragraph only applies if the association’s bylaws provide for secret ballots for the election of directors.”
Chapter 718.128 covers condominiums
Chapter 719.129 covers cooperatives
Chapter 720.317 covers homeowner associations
The Benefits of E-Voting
E-Voting Maximizes Participation
There are several benefits to e-voting but since it is generally difficult obtaining a quorum at annual meetings when most owners vote, the biggest benefit could be overcoming owner apathy. For example, if an amendment is desired by the board requiring a 2/3 or 3/4 of all owners to approve, apathy may get in the way of acquiring the needed votes. Quorums should be easier to accomplish by allowing owners to vote through a website or on their phones. Voter turnout would be positively affected if owners can vote conveniently.
Owners can vote at their own convenience and they do not need to attend a meeting. It takes only a couple of minutes to vote and there is generally a higher level of responses because of email reminders.
Easier for Voting Management
Having an online turnkey e-Voting software system saves time, not just for the owners but for the people managing the Voting. There is no waiting for ballots in the mail, no duplicate or invalidated ballots and no manual counts of paper ballots. You can also print the results and tally along with any manual paper ballots.
Electronic Voting is Private and Secure
IBA Technology is a third party e-Voting provider and as such, there is separation between the voting process and the owners who are voting. In addition to that, each vote is authenticated because it has a date and timestamp and the voter’s Internet address. Finally, paper ballots are not secure.
The first step is for a Board to decide if they wish to offer electronic voting to their members. Florida Statutes 718.128 requires associations to adopt a board resolution approving electronic voting before they can use e-voting. The resolution must define the manner in which online voting will be conducted including things like procedures, deadlines, opportunities to consent to and participate, or opt out. The resolution must be considered at a board of directors meeting with 14 days advanced notice. In addition, a copy of the resolution must be provided to owners.
The resolution must specify that:
- All unit owners receive notice of the opportunity to vote through an online voting system prior to each election or other unit owner vote in which the association authorizes online voting;
- The deadline to consent, in writing, to online voting must be no less than 14 days before the election or other unit owner vote;
- A method to authenticate the unit owner’s identification to the online voting system;
- A method to transmit an electronic ballot to the online voting system that ensures the secrecy and integrity of each ballot; and,
- A method to confirm, at least 14 days before the voting deadline, that the unit owner’s electronic device can successfully communicate with the online voting system.
- The first of these requirements will ensure continual notice under circumstances in which online voting is conducted on an ongoing basis, avoiding situations where new owners are unaware of their right to opt in, and the latter prevents issues arising from last minute consents, and protects against fraud.
Once a Board decides they want e-Voting, next they search for and choose software. There are some rules about the e-voting software which software companies like IBA Technology must meet:
E-Voting Rules that come with the Florida Law
According to the rules that come with the law, the e-voting software used must be able to:
- Authenticate the unit owner’s identity.
- Authenticate the validity of each electronic vote to ensure that the vote is not altered in transit.
- Transmit a receipt from the online voting system to each unit owner who casts an electronic vote.
- For elections of the board of administration…Permanently separate any authentication or identifying information from the electronic election ballot, rendering it impossible to tie an election ballot to a specific unit owner.
- Store and keep electronic votes accessible to election officials for recount, inspection, and review purposes.
The Added Benefits of using IBA Technology E-Voting Software
Not only is our e-voting software compatible with the Florida laws concerning e-voting but it seamlessly integrates with our other homeowner association software, website products, communication tools and management tools.
All of our condominium and homeowner’s association products offer easier communication between owners and boards, are easy to use, convenient, save money and time and offer significant value.
Contact us if you have any questions, for a free demonstration, or a proposal.