Election time in Condo Associations might be a big deal – or a big snooze. Regardless, you want to make sure that you are organizing things well. You want to ensure that there is interest, engagement, competition, and most importantly, fairness. This guide will help ensure you run an effective and fair Condo Association election.
Develop a Schedule
Your Bylaws will typically indicate when elections will be held and when you must provide notice to Owners. If you want to have a fair Condo Association election, you need to make sure you develop a schedule of events and announce accordingly. While your Bylaws may just mandate announcing to Owners when the election is and when candidates must declare by, you can do better. Here’s an example schedule of possible events:
- Call for Candidates (-45 days; -30 days is imaginary Condo’s Bylaw minimum)
- Candidate Deadline (-25 days)
- Candidates Announced (-21 days)
- Candidate Meet and Greet (-14 days)
- Candidate Town Hall (-7 days)
- Election Day (Day 0)
Promote the Event(s)
Like a special assessment, major project town hall, or a Condo Association annual meeting – which usually doubles as your election – you want to aggressively promote your elections. Make sure you’re doing the usual outreach efforts – digital, public sign postings, etc. You might consider under-the-door messages or door hangers, but that’s a judgment call. Make sure you’re giving plenty of promotion time as well so as to drum up interest. You want to make sure that you’re promoting every aspect of the previously developed schedule so people understand the opportunities for engagement.
Develop Some Candidate Events
If you want to drum up interest, or if you have a contested election, you should consider election events to help Owners choose. The easiest way to do this is a Candidate Meet and Greet. This is exactly what it sounds like – a set time where Owners can interact with candidates and ask their opinions. You might encourage attendance with some free food, or maybe even make it a social event or party.
If you really want to rev up the competition, you might consider a candidate debate or forum. This is a more structured event where you might preselect basic questions about the community’s direction and ask candidates their views. If you go this route, take it easy. Keep the event informal, keep it about the issues, and don’t let it get nasty. In general, this sort of event is probably not worth it because it can get contentious. On the other hand, if you set ground rules correctly, it can be a valuable way for Owners to get to know each other.
On election night, which may also be your annual meeting, make sure ballots are ready and the format is understood. If your Bylaws allow for nominations from the floor – where off-ballot candidates can be allowed to run – do that first. If you’re going to give each candidate time to speak, make sure the process is understood – give them a set amount of time and make sure someone is enforcing time limits. Finally, collect the ballots. Don’t collect ballots first in case someone is nominated or something happens that causes people to change their votes. Collect ballots at the end.
Ensure You Have Vote Count Observers and Counting is Done Transparently
Typically your Bylaws will mandate a certain number of Owner observers of the counting process. Select your observers in a fair and transparent manner. Do something like drawing names from a hat if multiple want to observe, or have multiple observers beyond the Bylaw mandates. Ensure that the people you select aren’t all friends of a candidate or anything else that could cause drama. Announce the election rules fairly and openly.
Be Transparent, Promote the Event, and Be Fair
Most Condo Association actions go back to the same core concepts. Make sure people are aware and you’re being transparent about the opportunity. Don’t slack when it comes to promoting the event in order. And make sure the actual voting occurs in a fair manner in accordance with your Bylaws. Stick to these strategies and you’ll have a fair Condo Association election.