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Subject: Mail in Ballots
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BH5
(Virginia)

Posts:9


08/04/2019 9:38 AM  
Are mailed in ballots allowed in Virginia?
BH5
(Virginia)

Posts:9


08/04/2019 2:44 PM  
Actually, these may be called absentee ballots. I found a statement from a 2009 article that said VA does not allow mail-in voting. I cannot find a direct statement in VA Statutes that says that.
SueW6
(Michigan)

Posts:526


08/04/2019 7:42 PM  
55.79.77 of the Condominium Act covers voting
BH5
(Virginia)

Posts:9


08/05/2019 5:30 AM  
Thank you. We are a single-family development so that reference (like others) is not specific enough. But reading that statue leaves open possible interpretations, such as: Should one assume the absence of any mention of mail-in ballots allows them or disallows them? Also, would it be reasonable (common sense) to think of a restricted proxy serving the same purpose as a mail-in ballot?
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:3572


08/05/2019 6:35 AM  
Posted By BH5 on 08/05/2019 5:30 AM
Thank you. We are a single-family development so that reference (like others) is not specific enough. But reading that statue leaves open possible interpretations, such as: Should one assume the absence of any mention of mail-in ballots allows them or disallows them? Also, would it be reasonable (common sense) to think of a restricted proxy serving the same purpose as a mail-in ballot?


Proxies by definition require the physical presence of a person at the meeting.
Via a "directed proxy", a person who will not be attending can select a person who will attend to vote the way the absent person wants.

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6534


08/05/2019 8:07 AM  
The absence of any mention of absentee or write-in ballots would seem to disallow them. Otherwise, it might be similar to sayin that no mention of phone-in voting means it's acceptable.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8550


08/05/2019 8:22 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 08/05/2019 8:07 AM
The absence of any mention of absentee or write-in ballots would seem to disallow them. Otherwise, it might be similar to sayin that no mention of phone-in voting means it's acceptable.




I say if not banned, then allowed.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2621


08/05/2019 8:33 AM  
If they’re not mentioned AT ALL in your documents or in state law (which may or may not apply to your community depending on whether the law applies to ALL HOAs or those established on or after the effective date), you could make the argument either way. Since we aren’t attorneys you may need to put this to your association attorney, but in the meantime, the real questions you should consider are things like:

• Where will these ballots be mailed?
• How do you keep the ballots secured (unopened) until the day they’re to be counted (e.g. at an annual meeting)?
• Who will count the ballots (you’ll need to ensure the number of ballots doesn’t exceed the number of eligible voters)?
• What do you do if someone turns in a ballot and then shows up at the meeting wanting to vote in person?
• How do you ensure the people casting ballots are eligible (e.g. no mailing ballots to delinquent homeowners or disallowing them if a ballot is returned)?

And so on.

A proxy isn’t necessarily the same as an absentee ballot, so you’ll also need to determine if you want the document to serve as one or the other or perhaps both. If you talk to your attorney about this, he or she could give you suggestions on when and how the association could use them.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6534


08/05/2019 8:46 AM  
Smoke signals, John C? Email voting?

CA HOA statute does allow mail-in absentee ballots and state civil code has many procedures listed that HOAs must follow that respond to Sheila's good questions. The best benefit of this is that it's much easier to make quorum. We, for instance, have about 25% absentee owners so it's easy for them to vote. And they do. Since CA initiated absentee voting in '06, no one votes by proxy anymore in our HOA.
SheilaJ1
(South Carolina)

Posts:110


08/05/2019 8:47 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 08/05/2019 8:07 AM
The absence of any mention of absentee or write-in ballots would seem to disallow them. Otherwise, it might be similar to sayin that no mention of phone-in voting means it's acceptable.


This seems correct. Mail in votes are not allowed unless governing documents and bylaws allow them. You could try to make a stand saying that a mail in ballot should be allowed since its not written in the governing documents but it would be difficult and costly since any vote or proxy can be rejected by the HOA, the burden will be on you to prove that rejection was improper.

BH5
(Virginia)

Posts:9


08/15/2019 12:31 PM  
Thanks to everyone who responded. I am proposing that our "rules" (whatever they are called) be modified/amended to send mail-in ballots in the annual notice for Board of Trustee elections. And that proxy forms be sent upon request only. Several HOA's in our area are doing this, so I have to assume a change in the "rules" are all that's needed. The proxy system we are using is not working. Quorum is never reached by the number of individuals in the meeting but only by virtue of the attendance of 3-4 proxies. These people control the vote. Several HOAs have simply declared that mail-in ballots will count toward quorum. I am also proposing that a proxy cannot represent (hold proxies) for more than a limited number of members. I have also learned that many HOAs have moved to on-line voting. The notion that physical presents of members or members serving as proxy is simply outdated in recognition of a simple fact: people will not attend meetings. Mail-in ballots (or on-line voting) counting toward quorum is an excellent solution to ensure individual members' voices are heard and forego the outdated notion that people must physically be in a meeting.
SheilaJ1
(South Carolina)

Posts:110


08/15/2019 1:10 PM  
You are all over the place.

If quorum is never reached, then all you need to do is collect directed proxies for quorum. Or get an un-directed proxy for voting and quorum.


You also cannot limit the number of proxies by rules or policies. A person can hold as many as they allow for another household until households run out.


Ballots don't count as anything other than a vote for something on the agenda. They don't count towards quorum. Mail in ballots are not allowed unless your documents state otherwise.

I have seen online voting but that brings about so many other issues as well.

I'm sorry but your idea of somehow getting mail in votes allowed is going to be difficult. Lastly, you are confused on the difference between Bylaws and Covenants. You should read both. You cannot change either of them without a majority member vote in a member meeting (Bylaws) or a 2/3 majority vote of the entire membership (Covenants). Very difficult since you indicate the same people control the vote, they would also vote against your proposals.

The only option I see for you is to collect proxies.
BH5
(Virginia)

Posts:9


08/15/2019 1:39 PM  
Thank you Sheila, Our county guidelines actually say the number of proxies held by any one person should be limited. And yes, getting the changes in the bylaws, etc., is the entire goal. I'll let you know how it goes. I should also point out that the HOA I'm in is 100% single-family homes and very few renters or absentee owners. I do think condos and retirement communities are bit more married to the proxy system. CA and AZ have actually outlawed proxy voting for HOAs.
SheilaJ1
(South Carolina)

Posts:110


08/15/2019 1:47 PM  
Posted By BH5 on 08/15/2019 1:39 PM
Thank you Sheila, Our county guidelines actually say the number of proxies held by any one person should be limited. And yes, getting the changes in the bylaws, etc., is the entire goal. I'll let you know how it goes. I should also point out that the HOA I'm in is 100% single-family homes and very few renters or absentee owners. I do think condos and retirement communities are bit more married to the proxy system. CA and AZ have actually outlawed proxy voting for HOAs.


Could you post the county ordinance related to the limit on proxies. Because HOA's are incorporated by the state not the county. And most states don't have a limit on the number of proxies any one person can hold.

TimB4 is in Virginia, I'm sure he can say something on this.

JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8550


08/15/2019 1:57 PM  
BH5 said:

CA and AZ have actually outlawed proxy voting for HOAs.

To my CA and NV fellow posters. Is this true?
BH5
(Virginia)

Posts:9


08/15/2019 1:59 PM  
Sheila, Find that reference here on page 43 http://sunderbriar.org/assets/fairfax-cty-community-assoc-man.pdf
RichardP13
(California)

Posts:3764


08/15/2019 2:06 PM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 08/15/2019 1:57 PM
BH5 said:

CA and AZ have actually outlawed proxy voting for HOAs.

To my CA and NV fellow posters. Is this true?



AZ, YES
CA, No

Been there, Done that
SheilaJ1
(South Carolina)

Posts:110


08/15/2019 2:08 PM  
Posted By BH5 on 08/15/2019 1:59 PM
Sheila, Find that reference here on page 43 http://sunderbriar.org/assets/fairfax-cty-community-assoc-man.pdf


Thank you, I see but no where does it say a limit on proxies unless your bylaws state something as stated here on page 43 "The bylaws usually limit the number of proxies that can be assigned to and voted by a single person."

Overall, the link you reference are just guidelines but not law.
BH5
(Virginia)

Posts:9


08/15/2019 2:18 PM  
Sheila, Exactly. That's the point. We have much latitude in determining the process for voting board members. And what I'd hoping to do is get one vote per member a standard. Using proxies is just and option, not a requirement. Like I said, I'll let you know how it goes.

Oh, sorry I misspoke on CA. I thought I saw that, but it may have been a specific HOA. It is not mandatory that HOA's use proxies. Here's some wording from CA law. Again it says poxies MAY be used if permitted. VA seems to say the same thing. There is a lot of leeway given to HOAs in the voting process.

(b) Proxies shall not be construed or used in lieu of a ballot. An
association may use proxies if permitted or required by the bylaws
of the association and if those proxies meet the requirements of this
article, other laws, and the governing documents, but the
association shall not be required to prepare or distribute proxies
pursuant to this article.

Which I found here: http://www.calassoc-hoa.com/Homeowners-Association/Davis-Stirling-Civil-Codes/5100-5145-Member-Election.aspx
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