A condo complex that offers electronic voting systems generally has more participation – but Fla. law includes rules for boards that want to set up an e-voting system.
STUART, Fla. – Question: Our condo building has more than 400 units and only a small percentage of residents seem to be interested in participating in voting when we have a vote on anything, so we can’t meet the quorum requirements so we can’t get much done in the building.
If we were able to vote online, I think we’d be able to get a lot more people participating. Can you please explain the process for implementing online voting for members? – F.T., Pompano Beach
Answer: In our experience we have found that communities who implement electronic voting and are able to get the owners to opt-in to vote electronically and receive electronic notices is a great way to increase voter participation. In order to do so, the first step is for the board to hold a duly-noticed meeting with at least 14 days’ notice to pass a resolution permitting owners to vote electronically.
Section 718.128, Florida Statutes, imposes certain requirements on the online voting system itself, which the association must follow. The association must provide each unit owner with:
- A method to authenticate the unit owner’s identity to the online voting system
- For elections of the board, a method to transmit an electronic ballot to the online voting system that ensures the secrecy and integrity of each ballot
- 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 association must use an online voting system with these five requirements:
- Number one: Able to authenticate the unit owner’s identity.
- Number two: Able to authenticate the validity of each electronic vote to ensure that the vote is not altered in transit.
- Number three: Able to transmit a receipt from the online voting system to each unit owner who casts an electronic vote.
- Number four: For elections of the board of administration, able to 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.
- Number five: Able to store and keep electronic votes accessible to election officials for recount, inspection, and review purposes.
Note that pursuant to such statute, owners that vote via the online system are counted as being in attendance at the meeting for purposes of determining a quorum, so this will help your community achieve the necessary threshold.
Please note that once the resolution permitting online voting is passed by the board, each owner has to “opt-in” to online voting; meaning that they must sign a written acknowledgement agreeing to “opt-in” to vote electronically, which the association must keep in its official records.
A unit owner’s consent to online voting is valid until the unit owner “opts-out” of online voting in accordance with the procedures established by the board.
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© 2021 Journal Media Group. Avi S. Tryson, Esq., is partner of the Law Firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross.