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Election Review

By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA / Published March 2020

Photo by iStockphoto.com/M-image

Every year it seems there are questions about the procedures for elections and the annual meeting in condominiums and cooperatives. Since the Florida Statutes and Florida Administrative Code (FAC) rules jumble everything together, it’s easy to see why so many managers get confused.

     It is easier to understand if you know that elections and the annual meeting are two entirely different events happening at the same time. Actually, one can happen without the other, but they are scheduled for the same time.

     Let’s take a look using the chart on the left.

     First notice the two tracks—the left side is the election track; the right side is the annual meeting track.

     The election track starts 60 days prior to the annual meeting date with a first notice of election that is delivered to owners. This notice is essentially a call for self-nominations, and owners have 20 days within which to notify the association of their intent to run for an open board position.

     This first notice of election may be mailed, hand delivered, electronically transmitted, or included in a community association newsletter. There is no proof of notice/affidavit of mailing required.

     The 20-day window for owners to submit their intent to run takes us to 40 days prior to the election.

     If, after sending out the first notice of election, the number of candidates is less than or equal to the number of seats available, no election will be required, but the annual meeting must still take place.  At the meeting where the election would have been held, the chair will announce the election is not needed, and those candidates who submitted notice of their desire to run will take office at the end of the meeting. The statute does not permit nominations from the floor.

     If the number of candidates exceeds the number of seats available, an election will be required.

     The next deadline on the election side of the chart is 35 days prior to the election. Any candidate wishing to do so may submit a candidate information sheet; it is optional.

     The sheet may not be larger than 8 ½ inches by 11 inches in size and may be printed on only one side of the sheet of paper. The association may not alter, edit, or otherwise modify the content of the sheet provided by the candidate. Management should check to make sure the candidate is not delinquent at the time of submission of the notice of intent to run. The association is not liable for the contents of the information sheets prepared by the candidates. The advice given by several insurance agents about checking the convicted felon status is—don’t do it. They say, “do not take on more responsibility than is required by statute.” If you want to know if the candidate is a convicted felon, let a nosy neighbor check. It should not be a task of management. After receiving permission from each candidate, in order to reduce costs, the association may print or duplicate the information sheets on both sides of the paper. 

     If the election is necessary, at 14 days prior to the election, the following will be sent to owners:

  • Second notice of election announcing an election is necessary and including the ballots and envelopes with instructions.
  • The candidate information sheet for any candidate who provided the sheet to the association.
  • A ballot listing all candidates in alphabetical order by surname.
  • A ballot envelope into which the completed Ballot will be placed.
  • A return envelope into which the ballot envelope will be placed. The return envelope must provide a space for the signature and unit number of the owner casting the ballot. The return envelope may be mailed or hand delivered to the association. Upon receipt by the association, no ballot may be rescinded or changed.

    The ballots will be opened and counted at the election meeting according to procedures established by the statutes, regardless of whether a quorum is present. This statement “regardless of whether a quorum is present” separates the whole election process from the annual meeting. That means if on the annual meeting side of the chart, there is no quorum, the election and counting of the ballots will still take place.

     In order to hold a valid election, valid ballots must be cast by at least 20 percent of the unit owners entitled to vote.

     Simultaneously with the sending out of the second notice of election (if there is an election), 14 days prior to the annual meeting date, the notice of the annual meeting and agenda must be delivered to the members. The affidavit of mailing or proof of notice should be completed for the annual meeting side of the process. In addition, the following will likely be sent:

  • The notice of annual meeting
  • Agenda
  • Proxy forms—limited and/or general
  • Voting certificates
  • Copies of any amendments to be voted on
  • Copies of the proposed budget to be voted on
  • Notice of organizational meeting of board (optional)
  • Minutes of previous owners’ meeting (optional)

     If there is no quorum for the annual meeting, the items to be voted on or discussed at the annual meeting cannot occur. If there were items on which owners needed to vote, the meeting would have to be rescheduled and another 14-day written notice to owners given. In the meantime, the proxies already collected will “live” for 90 days.

     Managers who say they did not have an election because they did not have a quorum have misunderstood this two-track system. There are two circumstances where an election would not occur: (1) when there are equal to or fewer number of candidates than seats, or (2) if you don’t receive at least 20 percent eligible ballots, but not because you didn’t have a quorum.

Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA

Florida CAM Schools

     Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while at the same time dealing with different communication styles, difficult personalities, and conflict. Effective communication and efficient management are her goals. Since 1999, Betsy has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Betsy is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a former member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. For more information, contact Betsy@FloridaCAMSchools.com, (352) 326-8365, or www.FloridaCAMSchools.com.