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Subject: Ways to Increase Voting Turnout
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07/14/2021 2:37 PM  
This is sort of two issues, but it was suggested I post separately about selectively enforcing CCR's across the board and that brings me to creatively getting homeowners to vote so we don't selectively enforce some of the CCR's which is what's happening now.

The board chooses not to enforce a couple of the CCR's based on some clause about enforcement (I can copy if you'd like to review). There's a requirement for two trees on each lot and there's a requirement that boats/RV's be enclosed or hidden behind a fence. We have about 10 homeowners of the 41 with a boat or RV visible from the street and we have about 3 who yanked out their canopy trees after they built and replaced with palms or nothing at all.

We are trying to pass some amendments to our CCR's. We have trouble with obtaining the votes to pass them. We have to have 2/3 to pass which is 28. The first time they did them in 2018, they got 14 responses. They tried again in 2019 and got the 28 votes to pass, but it was not in a way that is aligned with Florida Statutes - they took several months and the attorney said it was too long between the meeting for the votes and the collection of the votes. This year, we tried a third time and a couple homeowners volunteered to throw in a gift card to anyone who showed up to vote. We got 19 votes on one day, that is surely a record for our regular measly turnout. But still not enough.

I'm wondering if anyone has had success or found more creative ways to get homeowners involved with the community voting.

Is this a lost cause? This is my first year, I have that naïve "We can do this with hard work and effort" ethic and I'm just worried I'm spinning my wheels for nothing. It's disappointing to put out efforts to educate on the changes and increase participation and still fall so short.


07/14/2021 2:50 PM  
I don’t know Florida’s rules about absentee votes or proxies, but if you can use those, going door to door and asking for either of those is the most effective way to get them, in my experience.


07/14/2021 2:57 PM  
Posted By CarissaM on 07/14/2021 2:37 PM

I'm wondering if anyone has had success or found more creative ways to get homeowners involved with the community voting.
For non-condo HOAs, Florida Statute 720 now allows online voting (FS 720.317), and it appears that all FS 720.317 requires is a board resolution to do so.

Reports are that online voting greatly increases voter turnout.

Else writing the ballot for an amendment, and choosing carefully what you want to put before the membership to vote on, may require some creativity and strategizing, to get what the Board most wants to pass.

FWIW, you all are doing the right thing by having the HOA attorney involved. Getting an amendment done is tricky legally. You all want to maximize the likelihood that any amendment can withstand court challenges.


07/14/2021 3:03 PM  
IF, you have restrictions in your CCRs, what are the amendments for?


07/14/2021 3:16 PM  
Our documents required a 75% for Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation of the membership to change. It was 90 % for CC&R's. We also were required to have a special meeting of which to take these votes. Which as you could imagine if you can't get anyone to an open board meeting how is a special meeting going to ever happen?

What ended up happening is the lawyer drafted us 2 documents. 1 for the actual vote. The 2nd for giving up your rights to cast your vote at a special meeting. The second part meant we could take a vote anytime. Let us go door to door or at the board meetings. Made it easier to gather votes and talk face to face individually.

Former HOA President
(South Carolina)


07/14/2021 3:28 PM  
We just got approval for a total re-write of our 40 year old governing documents. Including planning this was roughly a year and half effort. Some of the things we did that I believe helped get the vote out were:

1.) We used Survey Monkey to get feedback on some of the things we wanted to change. The ones that the vast majority of owners did not want, we took out of our draft. (Pick your battles wisely.)

2.) We held multiple Zoom meetings where we gave a presentation on why the docs needed re-writing and we then took questions. I was surprised how many owners actually attended.

3.) Over the last year we sent out community wide emails roughly twice a month that each went over specific items we wanted to add or change and we educated them on why it was needed. Each email was sent using a generic Gmail board account. We ended each message by telling the recipient to please respond back with any thoughts or comments that they might have. We received a lot of good feedback that helped us determine the reasons that some people were resistant. Once we knew why we tailored future communications to address these issues.

4.) During the last 6 months of the effort we posted educational flyers on the community mailbox stands with different messages that stated how the proposed new docs would benefit every owner. For example, limiting rentals, adding a .5% Capital Improvement Fee on all home sales that would go directly into our reserve funds, etc. ( In our case reserve funds were historically ignored resulting in special assessments and inadequate maintenance. We played on this fear and reminded them what happened as a result.) The generic email address was posted for feedback.

5.) On the last day of voting we set up camp in the clubhouse and encouraged people to come by and ask any last minute questions they might have before dropping off their vote. I think we picked up about 20 votes that morning which ended up being key.

The bottom line is communication, communication and education and education! You have to be able to convince people on why the changes will end up being to their benefit. Even though in our case there were serious legal issues with our old docs that is not what sold people on the new docs. If they don't hear, "what's in it for me?" they don't care enough to vote.


07/14/2021 3:29 PM  
This could be helpful, I will check with the attorney on how we can accomplish that. I didn’t realize that was an option.

MaxD, there were several items that are typos (ie referencing the wrong subdivision or street name that the association is responsible for) and we wanted it to be accurate. Some reference maintaining a wall but we don’t have a wall, we have a fence around our community so we wanted clarity there.

We wanted to remove the requirement for two canopy trees since this is Florida and palm trees don’t qualify as canopy trees. It was a developer thing but not really something we are interested in maintaining or enforcing.

We want to allow boats/RV’s to be behind a fence but not hidden from view (hard to hide an RV), currently they must be hidden or enclosed.

We want to limit boats/RV’s in the street to 10 days out of a rolling 30 day month, currently there is just a 7 day limit.

Oh and we want to remove the vinyl chain link option for fences. (All fences are currently vinyl). And there’s a typo that says wood fences need to face inward, but we can’t have wood fences so it’s a little contradictory.

I think that sums them up.


07/14/2021 3:31 PM  
JohnT what an effort!!! I feel like KEEP GOING and educate more. Survey Monkey is a great resource I hadn’t considered.
(South Carolina)


07/14/2021 3:32 PM  
Posted By CarissaM on 07/14/2021 3:31 PM
JohnT what an effort!!! I feel like KEEP GOING and educate more. Survey Monkey is a great resource I hadn’t considered.

I wish you nothing but success and don't give up. Just remember this really comes down to a sales job!


07/14/2021 6:00 PM  
I'm going to print JohnT's list for our upcoming attempt to get 67% owner approval to rewrite our 20 y.o. CC&Rs. We also will have some healthy gift certificate incentives.

An example, Carissa, of a rule your Board might make: The CC&Rs will continue to specify that each lot must have 2 trees & their location. A rule would specify the minimum height of a replacement tree and perhaps offer options of a few types.

Here's another example. Our CC&Rs allow owners to keep no more than two dogs or two cats or one of each. In ur high rise HOA, Re dogs: Our rules are more specific about incessant barking prohibitions, dogs may never be locked out on balconies, must be kept on a leash in the control of its caregiver, are not allowed in the pool area or gym, droppings must be picked up, etc. etc.


07/15/2021 6:19 AM  
I also saved those for planning over the next 6 months. I think we might be able to get the turnout if we can do it online and prep with more education on the topics. Some feel we are trying to be more restrictive. Some are unhappy about an HOA altogether but we do have street lights, the road is private so we must maintain it, we have a gate and also drainage to maintain so we must have an HOA to account for these annual costs. I think the biggest problem is that most of the homeowners built in that neighborhood and feel like nothing is wrong and the old adage if it's not broke, why fix it comes to mind.

Some really excellent ideas though, thanks for sharing JohnT.
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Ways to Increase Voting Turnout

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